India’s moon mission planned for April 2019, ‘Vyomnauts’ to reach space by Dec 2021: ISRO

Bengaluru: India’s second Moon mission, Chandrayaan-2, is planned for the middle of April this year, while the target for sending astronauts to space is December 2021, said Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman K Sivan on Friday. There is a possibility of women and civilians being part of the Gaganyaan project, the ISRO chief added.

The ambitious Gaganyaan project by the space agency will help India become the fourth nation to independently send humans to space.

ISRO had earlier said Chandrayaan-2, costing nearly Rs 800 crore, will be launched in a window between January-February 16 this year. The mission is an advanced version of the previous Chandrayaan-1 mission about 10 years ago.

He said the space agency had earlier planned to launch the spacecraft sometime between January and February but it could not materialise because certain tests could not be conducted. “Once we missed the February target, next available target is April. Chandrayaan-2 is scheduled from March 25 to April end. Most probably, the normal targeted date is April middle,” the ISRO chief said.

The announcement of the Gaganyaan project was first made last year by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Independence Day when he said “a son or daughter of India will go to space” by 2022.

“We not distinguishing. Indian Air Force (IAF) personnel will be there, civilians can also be there. If they meet the required criteria and standard, they will be selected. The selection committee will take the final call,” he said.

Sivan said that the criteria for selection will be stringent for the first mission but might be relaxed for the second and third, according to a report in HT.

“The initial training for Gaganyaan will be done in India and advanced training maybe in Russia. Women astronauts will be there on the team. That’s our aim,” ISRO chief K Sivan said.

Last month, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had announced that three Indian astronauts will be sent to space for up to seven days by 2022 as part of Gaganyaan. The cabinet has cleared of Rs 10,000 crore for the programme.

ISRO hopes to deploy its biggest rocket, the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV Mk III), to send the astronauts into space from the Sriharikota space port in Andhra Pradesh. The astronauts will be called “Vyomnauts” since “Vyom” in Sanskrit means space.

India has inked agreements with Russia and France for assistance in Gaganyaan.

(With PTI inputs)