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Who is Vyommitra? The female robot Isro is sending on Gaganyaan mission

The second phase of the Gaganyaan mission will launch a female space-faring humanoid robot, Vyommitra


BS Web Team New Delhi

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Less than a week after the historic landing of Chandrayaan-3 on the Moon's south pole, the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) is preparing for the much-delayed Gaganyaan mission.

On Saturday, Union Minister Jitendra Singh provided a crucial update on India's maiden mission to send people into space, stating that the mission's trials would start in October.

He stated that the project's second stage will see the launch of "Vyommitra," a space-travelling humanoid robot dressed in female attire.

"After these two phases, astronauts numbering between one and three will be sent as part of the manned mission of the Gaganyaan project. I think this might start by 2024," Singh told NDTV, adding, "Bringing back the astronauts is as important as sending them… if everything goes perfectly, then we can have a go-ahead."

What is Vyommitra?

Vyommitra, a female robot, was introduced at the inaugural session of the "Human Spaceflight and Exploration — Present Challenges and Future Trends" event in January 2020.

The name is a combination of two Sanskrit words: Vyoma (Space) and Mitra (Friend), and it was created for the unmanned Gaganyaan mission. Because she lacks legs, she is described as a half-humanoid robot. She may, however, bend to the sides and forward.
According to The Hindu, the Isro Inertial Systems Unit (IISU) designed, developed, and integrated the robot. At the same time, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), a sister Isro facility based in Thumba, built its fingers.

The AI-enabled robot is designed to ride aboard a rocket and survive stress and vibrations while in flight, IISU director Sam Dayala Dev told The Hindu in October last year.

With the ability to speak, see, and make facial expressions, it has been created to resemble a human, Dev added.

Special teams from the IISU, which develops navigational systems for Isro launch vehicles, have been working on the humanoid for months.

Vyommitra will also acquire a digital twin, reported The Hindu. The twin would be built through collaboration with academic institutions such as the IITs.

Vyommitra will accompany astronauts on manned missions in addition to the unmanned Gaganyaan mission. Vyommitra's mission is to perform specific tasks in order to analyse how astronauts might behave. She will mimic every action that astronauts are required to take and respond to them in two languages.

She will monitor via module parameters, alert you, carry out life support procedures, carry out tasks like operating switch panels, and imitate other human actions in space throughout the uncrewed flight.

What is Gaganyaan mission?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the Gaganyaan project in his 2019 Independence Day address. It is an ambitious idea to send Indians into space.

Indian Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma has travelled to space. He did this while aboard a Russian spacecraft as a cosmonaut. The Gaganyaan project, on the other hand, will launch a three-person crew into a 400-kilometer orbit for a three-day mission before returning them safely to Earth. On their way back, the team will land on Indian Ocean waters.

The mission entails the development of numerous crucial technologies, such as human-rated launch vehicles for safely transporting humans to space, a system that simulates the life support systems of the Earth's environment, and an emergency escape supply, among others. Prior to the manned trip, unmanned missions will demonstrate the safety and dependability of all systems, according to Isro.

Gaganyaan's accomplishment will make India the fourth country to send humans into space.

According to a report by Times of India, another step forward for the Gaganyaan programme is the completion and delivery by the business of the second crew module sub-assembly designated for uncrewed missions. Construction on the orbital module preparation facility is also finished.

The facility has been authorised for test vehicle mission integration activities, and Gaganyaan launchpad augmentation work is underway.

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First Published: Aug 29 2023 | 6:31 PM IST

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