BENGALURU: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on Friday set up the Human Spaceflight Centre (HSC) to exclusively focus on India’s manned space missions. The first of these, the ambitious Rs 9,023 crore Gaganyaan, which aims to inject three Indian astronauts orbiting in low Earth orbit for a week, is slated for
December 2021, the space agency’s chief R Sivan announced on Friday.Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his Independence Day speech last year, had set a 2022 timeline and allocated Rs 10,000 crore for the mission. ISRO chairman R Sivan on Friday said at a press meet that the crew selection is yet to get under way and that they were open to having women astronauts in the crew too. The training of Indian astronauts — referred to as Vyomanauts — will be in India. The Indian Air Force will select the candidates for Gaganyaan and three of them will be sent during the first mission, he said, adding they will be sent abroad for additional training only if required.
With the setting up of the HSC, the Gaganyaan project will be given the highest priority. “This is a major turning point for ISRO. The project will aid ISRO’s expansion in a major way. It will add to existing verticals such as launch vehicles, space infrastructure and applications,” he said.
According to Sivan, the addition of the HSC is expected to help ISRO in advancing the country’s manned space programme. “We are going to continue the human space programme by setting up a space station and by sending man to the Moon,” he said. The manned mission is expected to be launched in December 2021.
Sivan said the new centre is part of the updated management structure of the space agency. Various tests for Gaganyaan project, expected to be completed by December 2021, will be conducted by the HSC .
Sivan also announced that S Unnikrishnan Nair, who earlier served as project director of Human Space Flight Project, has been named the director of the new Centre. R Hutton has been named project director of Gaganyaan.
Charting The Course
1st unmanned mission: Dec 2020
2nd unmanned mission: July 2021
Manned mission: December 2021