Gaganyaan: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on Wednesday unveiled Vyomamitra, a prototype for the half-humanoid which will be sent to space. Vyomamitra will be sent on the first test flight for Gaganyaan, the first manned mission of India, which has been slated for 2022. The first test flight is scheduled to take off in December 2020. A humanoid is a robot that looks like a human being. Vyomamitra is a half-humanoid because it only has a head, a torso and two arms and hands, but no legs.
ISRO is planning to send a human into space by 2022. Therefore, it is developing rocket systems and a crew module that can ensure that the astronaut is safe and can return. Other countries that launched humans into space had used animals to test their rockets and crew systems. However, ISRO will use the half-humanoid. Vyomamitra is being development at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, a research arm of ISRO in Thiruvananthapuram.
ISRO's GSLV Mk III rocket, which will be used to launch humans into space, is being improved to ensure that it is safe to carry a human. For the first test flight in December 2020, the crew module system is also being developed. Over the course of the next few months, ISRO will carry out several tests to launch and recover the crew module.
Once in space, ISRO's Vyomamitra will be able to test whether the flight would be safe to carry and bring back the astronaut in 2022.
What functions will Vyomamitra perform in space?
Once fully developed, Vyommitra will be able to use equipment on board the spacecraft.This equipment include safety mechanisms and switches. She will also be able to receive and act on commands from ground stations. Other functions that Vyomamitra can perform include responding to the environment, attaining launch and orbital postures, generating warnings, monitoring the crew module, replacing carbon dioxide canisters, receiving voice commands, and responding via speech.
Vyommitra's lip movement has been synchronised to mimic speech and she can act as an artificial companion for the astronaut. She can also give inputs the spacecraft's health during the launch, landing and orbital phases.
Apart from this, Vyommitra will also report on the changes that take place in the crew module during the flight and while returning. These inputs would enable ISRO to ensure that the crew module is safe to fly a human astronaut.