Indian Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Science and Technology, Space and PM’s Office Jitendra Singh has reiterated plans to launch an unmanned mission and send an indigenously-built robot in the first and second missions, respectively, of the Gaganyaan spaceflight programme by the end of 2023 or in 2024, preceding the human mission.
He unveiled the space project’s updated timeline during a media interaction in Jammu yesterday.
“The first mission will be totally unmanned and after that we will send a female-looking robot in the second one,” he added. “The main Gaganyaan will be launched at the end of 2023 or in 2024.”
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has developed Vyommitra, a 'half-humanoid' robot, and plans to send it into space on one of the Gaganyaan missions. Vyommitra, in her own words, can "mimic" the activity of a crew of astronauts and even "recognise them and respond to their queries".
“It is important to go and come back safely. It will land in water. It will ensure the security of the manned missions,” Jitendra said.
He added that the mission represents the first wholly Indian space project.
“Otherwise Rakesh Sharma had gone on a Russian mission. Gaganyaan is an indigenous mission with indigenous astronauts, indigenous technical knowhow and indigenous funding. We should thank the PM for making funding available to this project,” he said.
Singh said the department had thought Gaganyaan would be launched within 75 years of India’s independence “but it was delayed for two years due to Covid”.
“Some of the astronauts were being given training at a Russian institute. They had to come back. The two-stage training is now complete,” he added.
As the nation’s space agency gears up for these significant milestones, the world eagerly awaits India’s progress in space exploration and the historic moment when Gaganyaan will carry Indian astronauts to the final frontier, he said.
According to ISRO, the Gaganyaan project envisages launching a crew of three members on an orbit of 400 km for a three-day mission and bringing them back safely to earth by landing in Indian sea waters.