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Gaganyaan mission: India's indigenous rocket to propel astronauts into space


In a significant leap for India's space exploration, the Gaganyaan mission is set to launch Indian astronauts from native soil using a domestically manufactured rocket.

This ambitious national mission, costing around Rs 9,000 crore, aims to propel four specially trained male test pilots from the Indian Air Force into space.

During an exclusive tour of the main rocket lab given to NDTV, Dr. Unnikrishnan Nair, head of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Center, showcased the crew module housing the astronauts and the service module. The crew module, slightly over 10 feet in diameter and configured for three people, can be adjusted based on mission requirements.

"You know... since they are from the Air Force, they are close to astronauts in terms of key attributes, like quick response time, and have responded well to tests like centrifuge, which subjects them to higher acceleration forces," he said.

The four astronauts - Group Captain Prasanth Balakrishnan Nair, Group Captain Ajit Krishnan, Group Captain Angad Pratap and Wing Commander Shubhanshu Shukla - collectively known as 'India's Fantastic 4,' have undergone rigorous training, including tests on a centrifuge simulating higher acceleration forces. Additional training will be provided at the Human Space Flight Centre in Bengaluru. However, the mission will not include women astronauts due to the absence of women test pilots in the Air Force during the selection period.

"They are now an astronaut training centre for 13 months for training on survivability in different conditions, and then will be subject to parabolic flight tests. Then they will go to Bengaluru, where a Human Space Flight Centre is set up and will get more training, including physical training," added the official.

A significant aspect of the Gaganyaan mission is Vyommitra, a robotic humanoid, which will undergo a test flight preceding the mission. The launch of Vyommitra, named after Sanskrit words for 'space' and 'friend,' is expected in the third quarter of this year.

The Gaganyaan mission, featuring a human-rated launch vehicle, is making substantial progress. At least two successful unmanned flights are required before the manned mission, with the first unmanned flight expected by the end of this year.

This landmark mission highlights India's prowess in space exploration, marking a historic stride in the nation's scientific achievements.

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