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ISRO Chairman S Somnath has revealed that PM Narendra Modi can fly to space in India’s first human mission when it is operational. In an interview with NDTV, when asked about sending the Prime Minister to space in an Indian vehicle from Indian land, the ISRO Chairman stated,“All of us will be very, very proud if we have the ability to confidently send the head of state to space.”

He added, “While he [PM Modi] certainly has many other, more critical responsibilities, developing a human spaceflight program is a capability we’d like to cultivate. This mission is designed to contribute to Gaganyaan space program, particularly the astronaut training program for the International Space Station (ISS). The experience gained will be instrumental in building our capacity in this domain.

The first Gaganyaan crewed flight is likely to last one day in space, with the astronaut doing 16 orbits of Earth. Dr Somnath said that this would effectively test the environmental life support and control systems.

Talking about the actual launch timeline of the first human space mission of India, Dr S Somnath noted, “We are at a critical juncture with Gaganyaan this year. We have three important missions scheduled. First and foremost is the unmanned mission to orbit, spend time in orbit and return; the second is a test about equipment and algorithm; the third is a test to check the launch pad scenario”.

He further added that the first test flight of Gaganyaan mission is scheduled for the end of next year. However, he clarified, “everything depends on the progress we are going to make.”

Earlier this year, four astronaut designates, described as “adventurers and valiant men preparing to go into space”, were introduced at the event. These officers were chosen from Indian Air Force. They included Group Captain Prashanth Balakrishnan Nair, Group Captain Ajit Krishnan, Group Captain Angad Pratap and Wing Commander Shubhanshu Shukla.


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