ISRO to test crew escape system extensively, doubts sensors of Chandrayaan-2

The Indian space agency will extensively test the crew escape systems of its rocket before Indian astronauts are put into it and also the moon lander before the Chandrayaan-3 mission is launched, its chief said on Thursday.

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman S. Somanath also said the space agency had doubts on the sensors of the Chandrayaan-2 mission, launched a couple of years ago, and which crashed into the lunar surface.

The ISRO is not in a hurry to go to the moon and is working on making its moon lander more rugged, he said.

Somanath was speaking to reporters here after the successful launch of three Singaporean satellites with the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle-C53 (PSLV-C53) rocket.

Queried about the status of India's human space mission or Gaganyaan, he said it will not be in this year or in next year.

"The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV MK-III) rocket will be human rated. We have to prove its safety systems. The safety systems have to be tested," he said.

According to him, four crew escape demonstrations will be carried out and unmanned GSLV MK-III rockets will be sent up before the actual human space mission.

On the country's third moon mission, Somanath said the ISRO is making the lander more rugged and checking the sensors and is not in a hurry to go to the moon.

According to him, the ISRO had doubts on the sensors of the Chandrayaan-2 which might have resulted in the failure of the lander's safe landing on the moon.

Somanath said the propulsion systems of the moon lander are being tested.

On carrying third party satellites for a fee by the GSLV rocket, he said the agency will launch the satellites of OneWeb - a joint venture between India's Bharti Global and the UK government - this September/October and in 2023.

Queried about the reduction in number of satellite launch missions, Somanath said that the launches were not scaled down but there were production problems at the vendors' end due to Covid and semiconductor chip shortage.

He said the situation is now better.

Asked about the Space Bill and the status of the draft regulations for the private space sector players, Somanath said that the government will first come out with a Space Policy, which will give clarity on various aspects for the private sector players as well as the foreign direct investment (FDI).

Somanath said the Space Policy has completed the internal review and it is being discussed by the other Ministries and an approval from the Cabinet is expected soon.

The Space Bill gives teeth to the private space sector regulator Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe).

The maiden launch of ISRO's new rocket Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) will happen in July end and the space agency is targeting three more space missions this year.

As regards Aditya-1 satellite, Somanath said its critical payload is under test.