The projects of Gaganyaan and Chandrayaan 3 have got underway as four pilots from the Indian Air Force (IAF) will leave for Russia this month to receive training as astronauts of Gaganyaan, the first Indian crewed flight to space.
They were shortlisted after a series of fitness and endurance tests, ISRO Chairman K. Sivan shared the information to the media on Wednesday.
The initial tests for the selection of the astronauts were conducted in the IAF’s Institute of Aerospace Medicine, Bengaluru, and Russia. The four will leave in the third week of January to be trained at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Centre in Moscow, as per an agreement signed between the space agencies of the two countries last year.
Gaganyaan is a first of a kind space project for India that was announced by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in August 2018. It is of worth ₹10,000-crore and Indian human space flight scheduled for 2022. It is designed to have 3-7 crew members spend 3-7 days in space in a 400-km orbit.
Dr. Sivan said Gaganyaan activities were on track. However it was not known yet how many astronauts would finally travel to space.
Dr. Sivan shared the information that the first of the two pre-Gaganyaan flights with a humanoid will be launched this year-end along with some of the six shortlisted micro-gravity experiments.
Along with the Gaganyaan project, ISRO side by side has also quietly begun work on another soft landing mission to the moon with most of the same features of Chandrayaan-2 and almost on the back of the failure of the latter’s lander on the lunar surface on September 7.
The launch of the nearly ₹600-crore Chandrayaan-3 is targeted for the end of this year or early 2021.
It will be almost a repetition of the July 2019 Chandrayaan-2 mission in the configuration of spacecraft, the landing spot on the moon and the experiments to be conducted on the lunar surface, Dr. Sivan said.