The Federal Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Science and Technology Jitendra Singh said India’s first human spaceflight, ‘Jaganyaan’, is expected to be launched in 2024.
The mission was scheduled to launch in 2022, but that did not materialize due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the training of astronauts in both Russia and India,” Singh was quoted by an Indian news agency as saying.
It will follow the first test flight of sending an apparently female spacefaring humanoid robot – VyomMitra – into outer space, likely next year.
The Indian Air Force has identified four fighter pilots as a potential crew for the human spaceflight mission. The potential crew underwent basic training in Russia.
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) will send at least two astronauts into Low Earth Orbit (LEO) in 2024 after evaluating the results of two orbital test flights.
According to ISRO, the Gaganyaan program envisages a short-term demonstration of human spaceflight into low Earth orbit and will lay the foundation for India’s sustainable long-term human space exploration programme.
This space program aims to demonstrate the local ability to carry out human spaceflight missions to low Earth orbit.
As part of this programme, two unmanned missions and one manned mission have been approved by the Indian government.
The total cost of the Jagania program is Rs 9,023 crore.
The human spaceflight program has both tangible and intangible benefits for India, which include progress towards a sustainable and affordable human and robotic program for exploration of the solar system and beyond; Advanced technological ability to do human space exploration, return missions samples and scientific exploration and future ability to actively cooperate in the development of a global space station and carry out scientific experiments of interest to the nation.
It will also create a broad framework for a more comprehensive academic and industrial partnership in carrying out development activities for national development.
It will create ample scope for job generation and human resource development in advanced sciences and research and development activities.
The mission will provide a unique opportunity to inspire and excite Indian youth and direct many students towards careers in science and technology towards challenging careers that encourage knowledge, innovation and creativity.
The program will enhance international partnerships and global security by sharing challenging and peaceful goals. A vibrant human spaceflight program can be used as a powerful foreign policy tool.
According to ISRO, the unmanned missions are to demonstrate technology, verify safety and reliability, and will be heavily equipped to study the performance of systems prior to a manned flight.
The main new technologies required for the Gaganyaan program are – human-classified launch vehicles, crew escape systems, habitable orbital units, life support systems and crew selection, training and associated crew management activities.
During the experimental mission, the spacecraft will be launched at an altitude of 15 kilometers, where astronomers will simulate an abort scenario to ensure the crew capsule returns to Earth using parachutes, officials said.
The second orbital test flight will take the Jaganyan crew capsule to a higher altitude and undergo a similar abort scenario to master the system.
The Gaganyaan Program will be a major national effort for India. The overall program coordination, systems architecture and implementation will be carried out by ISRO.
Furthermore, the human-classified launch vehicle, crew escape system, orbital unit and core infrastructure will be achieved by ISRO using in-house expertise and with the participation of industry, academia and national agencies. The country’s private players have developed a lot of experience in specialized fields, and this will be effectively used in the program.
For the first manned mission of the Gaganyaan program, astronaut trainees are selected from the pool of test pilots based on selection criteria jointly defined by ISRO and the Indian Air Force, which include flight experience, physical fitness, psychological assessment and aeromedical (including anthropometric criteria).
After the successful completion of the Gaganyaan program, the next step will focus on achieving the potential for a sustainable human presence in space.
ISRO also plans to launch the Chandrayaan-3 mission to the moon sometime in 2023. Officials said there are two launch windows for the lunar mission in February and July 2023.
The above article was published from a news agency with minimal edits to the title and text