BENGALURU: Isro chairman K Sivan, while stating that a lot of design work has been completed for Gaganyaan, said: “There will be several tests that we’ll do this year. Also, the final four astronaut-elects have been selected and they’ll begin training in Russia from third week of January.”
He further said that the first unmanned flight of Ganaganyaan is also targeted for this year. Allaying fears that these big ticket projects will hamper other missions, Sivan said: “We are looking at more than 25 missions this year.”
TOI had reported in November that two batches of astronaut-elects for Ganganyaan— a total of seven men— have completed the screening process in Russia and the final batch of five men will be leaving for Russia this weekend. Of these, Sivan said, the final four have now been picked.
In September first week, India picked 12 test pilots who cleared the level-1 screening for the Gaganyaan programme, a human spaceflight programme that envisages to send Indian astronauts to space by 2022.
The Institute of Aerospace Medicine (IAM), which selected the 12 astronauts from 60 applicants, had completed one round of screening, and now Glavkosmos— a subsidiary of Roscosmos State Corporation (Russia’s space agency)— has completed the screening, enabling selection of the final four. In July, Isro’s Human Space Flight Centre (HSFC) and Glavkosmos finalised an agreement that will see the Russian agency provide advanced training to Gaganyaan astronauts. “Since training will happen both in India and Russia, Glavkosmos also screened the astronauts,” a source said.
Glavkosmos will render services on consulting support of selection of candidates for the Indian astronauts, providing medical examination of the candidates for access to space flight related training program and providing space flight related training for the Indian astronauts selected on the basis of the medical examination.
The Level-1 of astronaut selection at IAM included extensive physical exercise tests, lab investigations, radiological tests, clinical tests & evaluation on various facets of their psychology.
Air Marshal MS Butola, director general medical services (Air) had said in November: “We have completed the task of selecting the astronauts well within time and completed it well. The task ahead is complex, intense and time consuming. Many advanced countries have faced challenges and abandoned it (human space programme).
Butola added that India is the first country to live-launch a human into space unlike others who had sent animals as an experiment prior to actual human missions.
IAM, it’s commandant Air Commodore Anupam Agarwal, said has completed the first of the 16 tasks assigned to them as part of Gaganyaan. He did not elaborate what the others were. “The initial selection is the first of the 16 tasks given to IAM. The remaining ones will be more complex,” he said.