ManufacturerDefence Research and Development Organisation
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited
Indian Space Research Organisation
Country of originIndia
ApplicationsCrewed orbital vehicle
Spacecraft typeCrewed
Launch mass8,200 kg (18,100 lb) (includes service module) [1]
Dry mass3,735 kg (8,234 lb) [2]
Crew capacity3 [3]
DimensionsDiameter: 3.5 m (11 ft) [4]
Height: 3.58 m (11.7 ft) [4]
Volume8 m3 (280 cu ft)[5]
PowerPhotovoltaic array
RegimeLow Earth orbit
Design life7 days
StatusIn development
Maiden launchJune 2022 (uncrewed)[6]
2023 (crewed)[7]

Gaganyaan (Sanskrit; IAST: gagan-yāna transl. "Sky Craft") is an Indian crewed orbital spacecraft intended to be the formative spacecraft of the Indian Human Spaceflight Programme. The spacecraft is being designed to carry three people, and a planned upgraded version will be equipped with rendezvous and docking capability. In its maiden crewed mission, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)'s largely autonomous 5.3 t (12,000 lb) capsule will orbit the Earth at 400 km (250 mi) altitude for up to seven days with a two or three-person crew on board. The first crewed mission was originally planned to be launched on ISRO's GSLV Mk III in December 2021,[8][9] but this has since been delayed to no earlier than 2023.[7] This Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) manufactured crew module had its first un-crewed experimental flight on 18 December 2014.[10] As of May 2019, design of the crew module has been completed.[11] Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) will provide support for critical human-centric systems and technologies like space grade food, crew healthcare, radiation measurement and protection, parachutes for the safe recovery of the crew module and fire suppression system.[12]

On 11 June 2020, it was announced that while the first uncrewed Gaganyaan launch has been delayed due to COVID-19 pandemic in India,[13] overall timeline for crewed launches is expected to remain unaffected.[14]


Preliminary studies and technological development of Gaganyaan started in 2006 under the generic name "Orbital Vehicle". The plan was to design a simple capsule with an endurance of about a week in space, a capacity of two astronauts, and a splashdown landing after re-entry. The design was finalized by March 2008 and was submitted to the Government of India for funding. The funding for the Indian Human Spaceflight Programme was sanctioned in February 2009,[15] but it fell short of full political support and obtained limited developmental funding.[15] Initially, the first uncrewed flight of the orbital vehicle was proposed to be in 2013,[16][17] then it was revised to 2016.[18] However, in April 2012 it was reported that funding problems placed the future of the project in serious doubt;[19] and in August 2013 it was announced that all crewed spaceflight efforts by India had been designated as being "off ISRO's priority list".[20] By early 2014 the project was reconsidered and was one of the main beneficiaries of a substantial budget increase announced in February 2014.[21] ISRO is developing the Gaganyaan orbital vehicle on the tests performed with their scaled 550 kg Space Capsule Recovery Experiment (SRE), which was launched and recovered in January 2007.[22][23]

The latest push for the Indian Human Spaceflight Programme took place in 2017,[24] and it was accepted and formally announced by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 15 August 2018.[25] The current design calls for a crew of three.[3] ISRO will perform four biological and two physical science experiments related to micro-gravity during the Gaganyaan mission.[26] ISRO is planning to replace hydrazine for green propellant in Gaganyaan mission for which Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC) is already working on a monopropellant blended formulation consisting of hydroxylammonium nitrate (HAN), ammonium nitrate, methanol and water.[27][28]

Funding and infrastructure

A crewed spacecraft would require about 124 billion (US$1.77 billion) over a period of seven years, including the 50 billion (US$0.7 billion) for the initial work of the crewed spacecraft during the Eleventh Five-Year Plan (2007–2012) out of which the Government released 500 million (US$7 million) in 2007-2008.[29][30] In December 2018, the government approved further 100 billion (US$1.5 billion) for a 7-days crewed flight of 3 astronauts to take place by 2021.[8]

Madhavan Chandradathan, director of Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), stated that ISRO would need to set up an astronaut training facility in Bangalore. Newly established Human Space Flight Centre (HSFC) will coordinate the IHSF efforts.[31] Existing launch facilities will be upgraded for launches under Indian Human Spaceflight project [32][33] with extra facilities needed for launch escape systems.[30] Russia is likely to provide astronaut training, and assist with some aspects in the development of the launcher.[34] In spring 2009, the full-scale mock-up of crew capsule of Gaganyaan was built and delivered to Satish Dhawan Space Centre for training of astronauts.[35]

India has already successfully developed and tested several building blocks, including re-entry space capsule, pad abort test, safe crew ejection mechanism in case of rocket failure, flight suit developed by DEBEL and the powerful GSLV-MkIII launch vehicle.[36] Having met all required technological keystones, the Indian Human Spaceflight Programme was accepted and formally announced by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 15 August 2018. Gaganyaan will be the first crewed spacecraft under this programme.

ISRO's Human Space Flight Centre and Glavcosmos, which is a subsidiary of the Russian state corporation Roscosmos, signed an agreement on 1 July 2019 for cooperation in the selection, support, medical examination and space training of Indian astronauts.[37] On Jul 22 2021 Isro chairman DR K Sivan told that India is developing the full life support systems indigenously and will be first tested on the ground and will be a part of the second unscrewed mission for testing[38]. ISRO is planning to develop a ground station for Gaganyaan mission at Cocos (Keeling) Islands, and after a brief discussion with Australian Space Agency, a temporary ground station for the mission has been setup by ISRO in Cocos (Keeling) Islands, as of 2021.[27]


Gaganyaan crew module is a fully autonomous 5.3 t (12,000 lb) spacecraft designed to carry a 3-member crew to orbit and safely return to the Earth after a mission duration of up to seven days.[1] Its 2.9 t (6,400 lb)[1] service module is powered by liquid propellant engines. The crew module is mated to the service module, and together they constitute 8.2 t (18,000 lb) orbital module.[1] The space capsule will have life support and environmental control systems. It will be equipped with emergency mission abort and emergency escape that can be done at the first stage or second stage of the rocket burn.[39] The nose of the original version of the orbital vehicle was free for a docking mechanism, but primary entry was evidently through a side hatch secured by explosive bolts.[40]

Following two non-crewed orbital flight demonstrations of the spacecraft, a crewed Gaganyaan is slated to be launched on the GSLV Mk III launcher no earlier than 2023.[7] Though the spacecraft is designed to carry 3 people, it is likely that the first flight will carry one person only.[41]

About 16 minutes after liftoff from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), Sriharikota, the rocket will inject the spacecraft into an orbit 300–400 km (190–250 mi) above Earth. When ready to land, its service module and solar panels will be disposed off before reentry. The capsule would return for a parachute splashdown in the Bay of Bengal.[42] Crew module is equipped with two parachutes for redundancy, while one parachute is good enough for safe splashdown. The parachutes would reduce the speed of the crew module from over 216 m/s (710 ft/s) to under 11 m/s (36 ft/s) at splashdown.[43]

List of flights

Development timeline of Gaganyaan
Flight Date Regime Crew Notes Outcome
Re-entry Test 18 December 2014 Sub-orbital N/A Sub-orbital test of scaled down boilerplate Gaganyaan capsule, launched aboard the sub-orbital first test flight of ISRO's GSLV Mark III rocket. Success
Pad Abort Test 5 July 2018 Atmospheric N/A 4-minute test of Gaganyaan's Launch abort system from launch pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre. Success
Gaganyaan 1 June 2022[6] LEO N/A First orbital test flight of Gaganyaan capsule. Planned
Gaganyaan 2 2022–2023[7] LEO N/A Second orbital test flight of Gaganyaan capsule. Planned
Gaganyaan 3 2023[7] LEO India TBA
India TBA
India TBA
First crewed flight of Gaganyaan, will carry 1-3 Indian astronauts on a short orbital test flight.[8][44] Planned


Test of water landing of CARE on 18 December 2014
Crew module test vehicle descends under parachutes on 5 July 2018 after the abort motor lifted it to an altitude of 2,500 m (8,200 ft).

On 13 February 2014, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited handed over the first boilerplate prototype of Crew Module structural assembly to ISRO for Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment (CARE).[10][45] ISRO's Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre would equip the Crew Module with systems necessary for life support, navigation, guidance and control systems. ISRO undertook an uncrewed test launch of the vehicle aboard the GSLV Mk3 X1, for an experimental sub-orbital flight on 18 December 2014. The GSLV Mk3 launcher with a dummy upper cryogenic stage (filled with liquid nitrogen to simulate weight of fuel) was launched at 09:30 a.m. from the second launch pad at Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota.[46][47] The crew module separated from the rocket at an altitude of 126 km. On board motors controlled and reduced the speed of the module until an altitude of 80 km (50 mi). Thrusters were shutoff at that altitude and atmospheric drag further reduced speed of the capsule. The module heat shield was expected to experience temperature in excess of 1,600 °C (2,910 °F). Parachutes were deployed at an altitude of 15 km (9.3 mi) to slow down the module which performed a splashdown in the Bay of Bengal near Andaman and Nicobar Islands.[48][49]

This flight was used to test orbital injection, separation and re-entry procedures and systems of the Crew Capsule. Also tested were the capsule separation, heat shields and aerobraking systems, deployment of parachute, retro-firing, splashdown, flotation systems and procedures to recover the Crew Capsule from the Bay of Bengal.[50][51] Inflight launch abort and parachute tests are expected to be conducted by the end of 2019.[52]

Pad abort test

The Indian Space Research Organisation's Pad Abort Test was conducted successfully on 5 July 2018.[53]


On 22 January 2020, ISRO announced Vyommitra, a female-looking robot who will accompany the other astronauts in the mission. It can detect and give out warnings if environmental changes within the cabin get uncomfortable to astronauts and change the air condition, it can also take up postures suited for launch and tasks and take commands.[54]

See also


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  2. ^ Indian Manned Spacecraft, Astronautix, 2014
  3. ^ a b Gaganyaan: Astronauts assigned to the mission are likely to be pilots, crew module design to be finalised soon. India Today, 20 January 2019
  4. ^ a b Kunhikrishnan, P. "India's Human Spaceflight Programme: GAGANYAAN" (PDF). UNOOSA. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 February 2019. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
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