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India took a major step in its preparations for carrying out manned space flights with Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) starting tests of a crew escape system for astronauts safety in case of launch abort.

The first in a series of tests to qualify a crew escape system was carried out by ISRO on Thursday, July 5. The crew escape system is a critical technology for human spaceflight, said ISRO in a statement released by Press Information Bureau (PIB).

“The Crew Escape System is an emergency escape measure designed to quickly pull the crew module along with the astronauts to a safe distance from the launch vehicle in the event of a launch abort. The first test (Pad Abort Test) demonstrated the safe recovery of the crew module in case of any exigency at the launch pad,” ISRO said.

According to ISRO, after a smooth countdown of 5 hours, the Crew Escape System along with the simulated crew module with a mass of 12.6 tonnes, lifted off at 7 AM at the opening of the launch window from its pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.

The test was over in 259 seconds (8 minutes 19 seconds), during which the crew escape system along with crew module soared skyward, then arced out over the Bay of Bengal and floated back to earth under its parachutes about 2.9 km from Sriharikota.

The crew module reached an altitude of nearly 2.7 km under the power of its seven specifically designed quick acting solid motors to take away the crew module to a safe distance without exceeding the safe G-levels (levels of gravitational force the crew would be subjected to).

Nearly 300 sensors recorded various mission performance parameters during the test flight, said ISRO. Three recovery boats are being exercised to retrieve the module as part of the recovery protocol.

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