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PM Modi Reveals Names Of Four IAF Officers For Gaganyaan Mission

Prime Minister Modi revealed the four astronauts for India's Gaganyaan mission: Shubanshu Shukla, Prashanth Balakrishnan Nair, Angad Prathap, and Ajit Krishnan, chosen for their expertise as Indian Air Force test pilots. They underwent training in India and Russia for the mission.

Edited By : Aniket Raj | Updated: Feb 27, 2024 13:37 IST
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled the names of the four individuals chosen as astronauts for India’s inaugural crewed space mission, Gaganyaan, during his visit to the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. The selected astronauts are Shubanshu Shukla, Prashanth Balakrishnan Nair, Angad Prathap, and Ajit Krishnan, who will embark on this historic journey into low-Earth orbit under the auspices of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

All four astronauts were bestowed with astronaut wings by Prime Minister Modi during his address at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) in Thumba, near the capital city of Kerala. Prashanth Balakrishnan Nair, Group Captain Angad Prathap, Ajit Krishnan, and Shubanshu Shukla have been chosen as astronauts for India’s inaugural crewed space mission. All of them hold esteemed positions as either wing commanders or group captains in the Indian Air Force (IAF) and boast extensive experience as test pilots. This background equips them with the necessary skills to promptly respond to any unforeseen challenges during the mission.

In his remarks, PM Modi highlighted that these astronaut designates represent not just individuals but the collective space aspirations of India’s 1.4 billion citizens. He underscored the significance of India’s return to human spaceflight after more than 40 years, emphasizing that this time, every aspect—from the launchpad to the rocket and countdown—will be domestically developed and operated.

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The four astronauts have been undergoing rigorous training at the astronaut training facility located in Bengaluru, operated by the space agency. The selection process for these astronauts took place at the Institute of Aerospace Medicine under the Indian Air Force (IAF).

In June 2019, ISRO and Glavkosmos, a subsidiary of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the training of four astronauts. Subsequently, from February 2020 to March 2021, these four astronauts underwent training at Russia’s Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre as part of the collaboration between the two space agencies.

During a visit to Delhi in 2023, the administrator of the American space agency NASA, Bill Nelson, announced that NASA would provide training for an Indian astronaut for a mission to the International Space Station by the end of 2024. The Indian Express reported that the selection process for this astronaut would likely involve choosing from among the four individuals who are undergoing preparation for the Gaganyaan mission.

The Gaganyaan mission aims to showcase India’s capability for human spaceflight by sending astronauts into an orbit approximately 400 kilometers above Earth for a mission lasting three days. Upon completion of the mission, the astronauts will safely return to Earth, with the spacecraft landing in the waters of the Indian Ocean.

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First published on: Feb 27, 2024 01:31 PM IST

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