India Selects 4 Pilots for First Gaganyaan Space Mission

Capsule descending under parachute (Credit: ISRO)

ISRO says it has selected four pilots from the Indian Air Force to begin training in Russia later this month for the first Gaganyaan orbital mission. The Hindu reports that Chairman K. Sivan made the announcement on New Year’s Day.

The initial tests 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, announced by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in August 2018, is the ₹10,000-crore 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.

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, Dr. Sivan said.