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ISRO Chairman S. Somanath has announced that the Indian space agency will develop the Indigenous Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) for the upcoming Gaganyaan mission, after several countries refused to share their technology and research.

Despite numerous successful launches in 2023 and 2022, in which ISRO helped several other countries launch their satellites, India’s space organisation has been denied the tech to engineer and make the Life Support System for its Gaganyaan mission. 

Somanath, Chief of ISRO addressing the Manohar Parrikar Vidnyan Mahotsav, emphasized ISRO’s expansion into ECLSS, venturing beyond their established realm of rockets and satellites. 

“We have no experience in developing an environmental control life support system. We were only designing rockets and satellites. We thought that this knowledge would come from other nations, but unfortunately, after so much discussion, nobody is willing to give it to us,” Somanath said.

The Gaganyaan project aims to demonstrate India’s capabilities in human spaceflight, intending to propel a crew to a 400 km orbit by 2025Several countries are involved in ECLSS development for human spaceflight programs.

Some prominent examples include:

USA: NASA has extensive experience with ECLSS development for programs like Apollo and the International Space Station.

Russia: Roscosmos has developed ECLSS for their Soyuz spacecraft and the Mir space station.

Europe: ESA (European Space Agency) has contributed to ECLSS development for Columbus module on the ISS.

China: China’s National Space Administration (CNSA) is developing ECLSS for their Tiangong space station.

India: As mentioned previously, ISRO is currently developing its own ECLSS for the Gaganyaan human spaceflight mission due to limitations in international collaboration.Stepping into the unknown,

India’s Gaganyaan mission demands not just technical prowess but a human leap in skill and confidence. ISRO Chairman S. Somanath, addressing the program’s challenges, emphasized the nation’s unwavering dedication to “building the human capital and design excellence” required for this historic endeavor.

“When we send humans to space through our Gaganyan programme, I think the amount of skill and confidence that we need to have has to be higher than what we currently have,” he said.

Somanath highlighted ISRO’s commitment to proactive risk mitigation through sensor-driven AI systems, enabling real-time decision-making and autonomous failure prevention within launch vehicles.

He stressed the crucial need for proactive solutions to avert potential rocket failures, advocating for technology that can anticipate and address problems before they arise.

ISRO is not waiting for problems, they’re actively preventing them. By equipping rockets with brains that analyze data, predict issues, and react instantly, they’re creating a safer space for astronauts to explore. Thus, in a nutshell, ISRO is focusing on proactive risk mitigation.