In a detailed interview with TOI, Aditya S Chikodi, business head and GM of design & innovation, Tata Elxsi, said: “This is for the very first time that ISRO has involved an industry participant to do complete mechanical design and engineering model, which will simulate the crew module that would go to space and then bring the crew back to the Earth in the safest way possible. In order to do this, they just gave us a brief saying that this is what they required and they wanted to have these modules developed for certain space-specific specifications.”
Pointing out that one of the key requirements of Gaganyaan is the safe recovery of the crew, which must be carried out with minimum lapse of time, the firm said this is where its CMRM come into use. “For recovery team training, CMRMs designed and fabricated by us, which simulated the mass, centre of gravity, outer dimensions, interfaces and externals of the actual crew module, were used, both in Kochi and Visakhapatnam,” Chikodi said.
As reported by TOI earlier the Gaganyaan recovery trial operations entered the second phase with the Isro and the Indian Navy starting harbour trials at the Naval dockyard in Visakhapatnam. Before this, phase-1 of the trials were carried out at the Navy’s Water Survival Training Facility in Kochi.
“Our team, after analysing Isro’s requirements, came out with a design. They also looked at the material that was required. Of course, there was some input from Isro on materials. We looked at the supply chain, the sourcing of the material, the geometry and the engineering of the parts and very specific nitty-gritty… We needed to take care of various different elements on the part of the buoyancy etc,” Chikodi said.
Aside from Elxsi designing and building the modules, an important takeaway from this Isro project was creation of a local ecosystem in Bengaluru. “…We had to find partners locally within the ecosystem here in Bengaluru, who could actually fabricate this on our behalf, do the necessary build out and also help us with testing and validation. This was done and all the load test cases were tested and validated by us, post which two of these models were delivered to Isro, which they took to Kochi and Visakhapatnam,” he said.
On the firm’s past and future collaborations with Isro, Chikodi said some electronics on the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) had been delivered by the firm.
“We are also in talks with Isro on future collaborations, both as part of Gaganyaan and otherwise, but it’s too early to comment,” he said, adding that the CMRM project marked the firm’s foray into mechanical design for space.