India's manned space mission in December 2021: ISRO

India's manned space mission in December 2021: ISRO

"We have put everything in place. Gaganyaan has highest priority for 2019. We are planning to have first unmanned mission in December 2020 and second for July 2021. Once we complete this the manned mission will happen in December 2021. The entire team is geared up to achieve this target," Sivan said. PTI Photo

Gearing up for Gaganyaan, India's first manned mission to Space in December 2021, the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) has set up a Human Space Flight Centre with Unnikrishnan Nair as its director. 

Announcing this to the media here, Isro chairman K Sivan also indicated that a woman could be one of the first three astronauts aboard Gaganyaan. R Hutton will be director of the Rs 9,023 crore project, as part of which the astronauts will orbit the Earth for seven days at an altitude of 400 kms. 

The manned mission will be preceded by the first unmanned launch in December 2020 and the second in July 2021. “We will create the same crew module as the manned mission for these, and monitor them extensively. Any deficiency will be corrected. This will give us confidence for the manned mission,” Sivan explained. 

Trials will be critical since the selected crew would have to be put up in an enclosed space for seven days. “The environmental and life control systems are critical.”

Gaganyaan, he said, will be Isro's priority in 2019. The entire team is geared up to meet the targets fixed in accordance with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's address last year that Indian astronauts would unfurl the Tricolour in space by 2022, well before the country's 75th year Independence Day.

To a query on women astronauts, Sivan said both men and women had to be trained for the manned mission. “We want women astronauts to be there too. It is our aim,” he said. 

The Gaganyaan project, according to Sivan, marks a major turning point and a massive expansion for Isro. “It is not only about launching humans into space. It is also about engineering, about creating a conducive environment to help them stay in orbit, and bring them back safely to a predefined destination on earth.”

All crew members will be Indian. Once they are selected through the active involvement of the Indian Air Force, the initial training will be within the country. For advanced training, the crew will be sent abroad. Sivan indicated that Russia could be an option.