India has taken its first step towards a crewed space programme with a successful pad abort test of their Crew Escape System. This morning’s test was the first in a series of qualification tests to ensure the system is safe and operates effectively.
Launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota at 01:30 GMT (07:00 local time), the Crew Escape System carried a 12-ton simulated crew module. The 259-second test saw the escape system pull the crew module 2.9 kilometers from Sriharikota in an arcing trajectory. At its apogee of nearly 2.7 kilometers, the crew module separated and deployed its parachutes successfully.
The Crew Escape System utilizes seven quick acting solid motors to pull the crew module away from the launch vehicle in the event of an emergency. During this morning’s pad abort test, engineers from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) monitored nearly 300 sensors recording valuable data.
Although the success of the pad abort test is promising, the country’s crewed space program is generally not seen as a priority for the government or even the ISRO. The first crewed mission is currently scheduled for no sooner than 2024. It will likely utilise the country’s GSLC-III rocket, a launch vehicle that has currently only be launch twice.