A laboratory of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and a relatively recent Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) centre have come together to conduct special tests for India’s landmark Gaganyaan mission.
DRDO’s Terminal Ballistics Research Laboratory (TBRL) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with ISRO’s Human Spaceflight Centre (HSFC) via video conference on 31 March this year.
According to the June edition of the DRDO newsletter, the two centres joined hands to conduct hypervelocity impact studies on Gaganyaan crew module material specimens against micrometeoroid and orbital debris (MMOD).
The MMOD, or “space junk”, poses a serious threat to human spaceflight and robotic space missions. Space agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) says that the United States tracks more than 27,000 pieces of orbital debris but that the actual debris figure — including the smaller pieces that are difficult to track — is much higher.
Even a little piece of this swirling debris — going around the planet at hair-raising speeds of roughly 25,000 kilometres per hour — can endanger a spacecraft.
DRDO says that “even a paint flake can cause significant damage to the crew module in the absence of appropriate shielding”.