Jitendra Singh, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Science and Technology, has stated that India’s ‘Gaganyaan’ human space mission will launch in 2024.
The mission was originally scheduled to launch in 2022, but that date was pushed back due to Covid-19. “The Covid-19 pandemic impacted astronaut training in both Russia and India,” Singh said, according to an Indian news agency.
The first test flight will be followed by the launch of VyomMitra, a female-looking spacefaring humanoid robot, into space, most likely next year. Four fighter pilots from the Indian Air Force were identified as potential crew members for the human space flight mission. The prospective crew had completed basic training in Russia.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will send at least two astronauts into a low earth orbit (LEO) in 2024 after assessing the outcome of the two orbital test flights.
Gaganyaan programme aims
According to ISRO, the Gaganyaan programme aims to demonstrate human spaceflight to LEO in the short term while laying the groundwork for a long-term Indian human space exploration programme.
The goal of this space programme is to demonstrate indigenous capability to conduct human space flight missions to low-Earth orbit (LEO). The Indian government has approved two unmanned missions and one manned mission as part of this programme.
The total cost of the Gaganyaan programme would be Rs 9,023 crore.
The human spaceflight programme has both tangible and intangible benefits for India, including progress toward a sustainable and affordable human and robotic exploration of the solar system and beyond; advanced technology capability for undertaking human space exploration, sample return missions, and scientific exploration; and future capability to actively collaborate in global space station development and to carry out scientific experiments of interest to the country.
It will also establish a broad framework for broader academia-industry collaboration in undertaking development activities for national development. It will provide ample opportunities for job creation and human resource development in advanced science and R&D activities.
The mission will provide unique opportunity to inspire and excite Indian youth and steer many students toward careers in science and technology towards challenging jobs that encourage knowledge, innovation and creativity.