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'Nation will be proud' if ISRO able to take PM Modi to space: S Somanath

Elaborating on his response to accommodate PM Modi in the mission, the ISRO chief said that while he would he very happy to oblige, 'that's not the point here' as he pointed at the other responsibilities that the PM would have.
Last Updated : 02 July 2024, 05:37 IST

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The Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Dr S Somanath, said in an interview that he and the entire nation would be very proud if the agency flies Prime Minister Narendra Modi to space.

"All of us will be very proud. Not only me, the entire nation will be proud if we have that ability to confidently send such a state man to space (sic)," Somanath said in his conversation with NDTV when asked if he would accommodate PM Modi in a mission to space. However, he added that he would wait for the Gaganyaan Mission to reach a stage advanced enough to do that.

"See whenever such a thing has to happen, the Head of the State has to fly to the International Space Station or a space station of that station, it must be on our vehicle and from our land. I think I should say that only. So, I would wait for the Gaganyaan to be ready, to be proven, to be qualified enough to do that," Somanath told the publication.

He also said that he could not consider any candidate, including VIPs, for the mission as of now since he is limited by the "availability of the trained astronauts" who can be potential candidates.

Elaborating on his response to accommodate PM Modi in the mission, the ISRO chief said that while he would he very happy to oblige, "that's not the point here"—he pointed at the other responsibilities that the PM would have. Somanath also emphasised ISRO's desire to develop human spaceflight capability first before thinking of such a venture.

This comes after his recent address at the India Space Congress 2024 where the ISRO chief said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision for Amrit Kaal includes extending human space activity beyond the Gaganyaan mission, with the goal of landing on the moon by 2040.

However, he added India's current rockets are not sufficiently advanced for round trips to the moon. Developing rockets with higher payload capacity is essential for both bringing back samples and future human missions, the ISRO chairman said.

Earlier this year, PM Modi revealed the names of the four Indian astronauts, who are all highly experienced Indian Air Force test pilots. From that group, a few will travel to space next year in an Indian spacecraft.

Group Captains Prasanth Balakrishnan Nair, Ajit Krishnan and Angad Pratap, and Wing Commander Shubhanshu Shukla are the four astronauts selected for the ambitious Gaganyaan programme.

(With PTI inputs)

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Published 02 July 2024, 05:37 IST

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