Thiruvananthapuram: The design and development projects of India's space mission are carried out mainly at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) on the outskirts of the capital of Kerala.
The Inertial Systems Unit, a research and development unit of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) located at Vattiyoorkavu here, is behind the half-humanoid named 'Vyommitra' which was recently unveiled by the space agency. This space robot has been developed to multitask on board ISRO spacecraft Gaganyaan that will be launched for the maiden manned space flight planned likely next year.
'Vyomamitra', which has been designed with female looks, may take off to space on board Gaganyaan likely by December 2021 as is planned by the ISRO. It will be given the status of the fourth astronaut of the Gaganyaan mission along with the three humans astronauts.
'Vyoma' means 'space' and 'mitra' friend in Sanskrit.
ISRO unveiled the model at the Inertial Systems Unit the other day. (The Unit specialises in inertial sensors and other satellite technology.)
Though space agencies like NASA had earlier used humanoids for space travel, it is for the first time that ISRO is using a humanoid.
A humanoid is a robot that looks like a human being. ‘Vyommitra’ will simulate the human functions required for space.
Vyommitra can provide mental support to the astronauts apart from handling technical issues including the operation of life-saving devices on the spacecraft. It can crack jokes to boost up the morale of the astronauts when they are mentally stressed.
The humanoid can recognise the sounds of fellow astronauts, ISRO Chairman Dr K Sivan and people manning the projects.
It took nearly one year for completing the preliminary model of Vyommitra.
ISRO will conduct two trial flights without crew with this humanoid. The first will be held around December 2020 and the second around June 2021. The planning for the final Gaganyaan flight with crew will be based on the inputs from the trial flights.
Already four pilots of the Indian Air Force have been selected for the Gaganyaan mission. They will join Vyommitra as the maiden space flight of India gets ready to lift-off.