After Chandrayaan-2, all eyes on India’s first manned mission to space: All you need to know

The Gaganyaan project was first announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Independence Day speech in 2018

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman K Sivan Saturday said that India is moving ahead to meet its target of sending a man to space by December 2021. The space agency under the ‘Gaganyaan’ project aims to send a three-member crew to space in an indigenously-built rocket.

By December 2020, we will have our first unmanned mission of human spaceplane. The second unmanned human space plane, we target for July 2021, the space chief said while addressing the eighth convocation of IIT, Bhubaneswar.

Before the Gaganyaan project, the Indian space agency also aims to carry two unmanned flights into space before that.

What is the Gaganyaan project?

The Gaganyaan is a crewed orbital spacecraft that is expected to carry three astronauts into space for at least seven days. The project was first announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his 2018 Independence Day speech.

The spacecraft is likely to consist of an Orbital Module which will have a service and a crew module. The mission is estimated to cost around Rs 10,000 crore.

Read | Gaganyaan a major turning point in India s space programme: Ex-ISRO chairman

ISRO’s successfully tested GSLV Mk-III, now called LVM-3 (Launch Vehicle Mark-3) is the declared launch vehicle for taking the manned crew module into space. Over the next few years, many more flights of GSLV are scheduled. These will help ISRO in perfecting the cryogenic technology for sending up heavier and heavier payloads.

Why Gaganyaan is important?

The project holds the utmost importance for the country as it will boost the science and technology capability of the country, ISRO has said.

Explained | Gaganyan: How to send an Indian into space

If India does launch the Gaganyaan mission, it will also become the fourth nation to do so after the United States, Russia and China.

How are the astronauts being selected?

The Indian Air Force has completed the first level of selecting astronauts for the ambitious Gaganyaan mission from its pool of test pilots.

According to the Air force, the pilots underwent necessary physical exercise tests, lab investigations, radiological tests, clinical tests and evaluation on various aspects of their psychology.

Assistance from Russia likely

India is likely to receive assistance from Russia in the project. In July this year, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval met Russia s space agency chief Dmitry Rogozin and discussed key aspects of the mission.

Details regarding cooperation for the Gaganyaan Mission were discussed. In addition, the Russian side stated that they would like to see India participate in the International Space Station, and offered its full support for this purpose, a statement issued after the meeting said.