Meet Vyommitra, the robot that will go on Gaganyaan mission
In a matter of months, ISRO plans to conduct the first flight scheduled for its 'Gaganyaan' mission - the effort to send Indians into space. The program is highly ambitious, but the interesting part is, its inaugural flight will not see any human launch into space. Instead, an unexpected passenger will be taking the seat - a humanoid named 'Vyommitra'. Here's all about it.
Once the astronauts and flight systems are ready/tested, ISRO will carry out three spaceflights as part of the Gaganyaan program. The first two will see Vyommitra head into orbit, demonstrating the agency's ability to take and bring back humans safely, while the third will actually carry a crew of three Indians into space, where they will spend nearly a week and conduct experiments.
During the unmanned flights, Vyommitra, revealed by ISRO at a public event in Bengaluru, will behave like real astronauts. The humanoid, according to agency chief K Sivan, has been designed to mimic the activity of humans in space. It can recognize them, hold conversations in two different languages, answer queries, and perform several tasks and experiments during the flight (although not extensively).
At the Bengaluru event, Vyommitra introduced itself to the media as a "half humanoid." This, according to ISRO scientist Sam Dayal, is because the robot doesn't have legs to move on its own. Vyommitra "can only bend sidewards and forward," Dayal said, adding that "it will carry out certain experiments and will always remain in touch with the ISRO command center" during the mission.
While Vyommitra doesn't look as realistic as other humanoids in the market, it is garnering widespread attention due to its design. Essentially, the bot resembles a woman, which, many speculate, could be because all the astronauts shortlisted by the space agency for the first manned flight are men. Notably, the identity of the astronauts or 'vyomanauts' is still under the wraps.
If all goes according to the plan, ISRO will conduct the first and second unmanned flight with Vyommitra later this year and in June 2021, respectively. Then, after completing those flights successfully and validating the working of all the systems integrated with the craft, the agency will conduct the manned flight by the end of 2021 or in early 2022.