Even before astronauts embark on India's first manned mission to space, in December 2021, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will send 'Vyommitra', a 'lady robot', in unmanned Gaganyaan spacecraft.
The robot was the centre of attraction at the inaugural session of the "Human Spaceflight and Exploration – Present Challenges and Future Trends" here on Wednesday, 22 January.
Vyommitra, a combination of two Sanskrit words Vyoma (Space) and Mitra (Friend), took everyone by surprise when she introduced herself to the audience gathered there.
"Hello everyone. I am Vyomamitra, the prototype of the half-humanoid, been made for the first unmanned Gaganyaan mission," the robot said.
Explaining about the role in the mission, she said, "I can monitor module parameters, alert you and perform life support operations. I can perform activities like switch panel operations..."
The robot said she can also be a companion and converse with the astronauts, recognise them and can also respond to their queries.
ISRO chairman K Sivan told reporters the humanoid will simulate human functions in space and also interact with the environment control life support system.
"It will be simulating human functions there (in space). It will check whether the system is right. This will be very useful to simulate, as if a human is flying," said Sivan.
‘Inter-Planetary Mission Also on the Agenda’
On Gaganyaan mission, Sivan said the space agency has already developed and demonstrated key technologies such as having an operational launcher with 10-tonne payload capability to lower orbit, demonstration of mission design and management, and recovery system like space-qualified parachutes.
In this regard, the ISRO has initiated a full-fledged astronaut training facility in close proximity to Bengaluru for meeting its future requirements.
The space agency is also in talks with NASA, and other space agencies and industries on how it can collaborate on human space flight and learn from their experience.
The Gaganyaan will also assist in ISRO's long-term goal of interplanetary mission.
"Interplanetary mission is also on the agenda in the long-term," the ISRO Chief said.
"The only missing element were human life science and life-support system, which we are developing now," he said.