Astronauts for Gaganyaan: PM Modi’s Announcement

India is gearing up for its first crewed space mission, Gaganyaan, which will launch four Indian Air Force officers into a low earth orbit of 400 km altitude for three days. Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the names of the four astronauts who have been selected and trained for this historic mission during his visit to the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, on February 27, 2024.

The four astronauts

The four astronauts are Group Captain Prasanth Balakrishnan Nair, Group Captain Ajit Krishnan, Group Captain Angad Pratap, and Wing Commander Shubhanshu Shukla. They are all experienced test pilots who have undergone rigorous training at the ISRO’s astronaut training facility in Bengaluru and at Russia’s Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre. They have also received their astronaut wings from the Prime Minister, who described them as “four forces” who represent the aspirations and optimism of 1.4 billion Indians.

The Gaganyaan mission

The Gaganyaan mission is a demonstration of India’s human spaceflight capability and a milestone in the country’s space programme. It will also pave the way for future scientific and exploration missions involving humans. The mission will use ISRO’s most powerful launch vehicle, LVM3, which has been human-rated to ensure safety and reliability. The mission will also carry scientific experiments and payloads to study various aspects of microgravity and space environment.

The launch schedule

The first unmanned test flight of Gaganyaan-1 is scheduled to take off by the end of 2024, followed by the manned mission later. India will join an elite club of nations that have sent humans to space, including Russia, the US, and China. India will also collaborate with NASA for sending an Indian astronaut to the International Space Station by the end of 2025, as announced by NASA administrator Bill Nelson during his visit to Delhi in 2023.

The significance and impact

The Gaganyaan mission is a tribute to the vision and legacy of Dr Vikram Sarabhai, the father of India’s space programme, who dreamed of making India a leader in space science and technology. The mission is also a testament to the hard work and dedication of ISRO scientists and engineers, who have overcome many challenges and achieved many feats in the field of space. The mission is expected to inspire and motivate millions of young Indians to pursue their dreams and ambitions in science and technology.

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