Men on a Mission: Meet India's Gaganyaan Team


Feb 28 2024

<div style=' background:#FFFFFF;color:#000000;font-family:Verdana;width:auto;padding:5px;max-height:100%;'><span><p><p>Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled the names of four Indian Air Force (IAF) officials designated as astronauts for the country's maiden space flight, Gaganyaan, slated for next year. These fighter pilots, each boasting no less than 2000 hours of flying experience, are set to make history as they embark on this groundbreaking mission. The Gaganyaan mission aims to send four astronauts to an orbit of 400km and bring them back after three days. India's space agency Isro has been carrying out a number of tests to prepare for the flight. In October, a key test demonstrated that the crew could safely escape the rocket in case it malfunctioned</p><p>The designated astronauts, namely Group Captain Prashanth Nair, Group Captain Ajit Krishnan, Group Captain Angad Pratap, and Wing Commander Shubhanshu Shukla, were bestowed with astronaut wings during a review of the Gaganyaan mission by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This significant announcement marks a pivotal moment in India's space exploration journey.</p><p>Among them, Group Captain Prasanth Balakrishnan Nair stands out as the senior most IAF official selected for the space mission. Hailing from Thiruvazhiyad, Kerala, Group Captain Nair brings a wealth of experience as a Cat A Flying Instructor and test pilot with approximately 3,000 hours of flying under his belt. He has piloted a variety of fighter and transport aircraft, including the Su-30 MKI, MiG-21, MiG-29, Hawk, Dornier, and An-32. Notably, Group Captain Nair has commanded a premier fighter Su-30 Squadron, showcasing his leadership and expertise in the field.</p><p>Moreover, Group Captain Ajit Krishnan, born in Chennai, and Group Captain Angad Pratap, from Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh, bring their own impressive credentials to the mission. With extensive flying experience and diverse aircraft piloting backgrounds, they exemplify the caliber of professionals selected for this historic endeavor. Similarly, Wing Commander Shubhanshu Shukla, a Fighter Combat Leader and test pilot, rounds out the team with his expertise and dedication.</p><p>The Gaganyaan mission, spearheaded by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), represents India's inaugural human space flight program. Prime Minister Modi's review of the mission's progress underscores the government's commitment to advancing India's space exploration capabilities. During his visit to the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) in Thiruvananthapuram, PM Modi emphasized the significance of this milestone, stating, "They are not just four names or four human beings, they are the four powers that are going to take the aspirations of 140 crore Indians to space."</p><p>Accompanying the Prime Minister were key dignitaries including Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Union Minister Muraleedharan, and ISRO Chairman S Somanath, highlighting the collaborative effort behind India's space missions.</p><p>In addition to unveiling the astronauts' names, PM Modi inaugurated three major space infrastructure projects aimed at enhancing India's space capabilities. These projects, collectively costing approximately Rs. 1800 crore, include the PSLV Integration Facility (PIF) at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, the Semi-cryogenics Integrated Engine and Stage Test Facility at the ISRO Propulsion Complex, and the Trisonic Wind Tunnel at VSSC.</p><p>As preparations for the Gaganyaan mission continue, the selection of these accomplished pilots underscores India's commitment to pushing the boundaries of space exploration. With a launch window targeted between 2024 and 2025, the countdown to India's maiden manned space mission has begun. As Defence Minister Rajnath Singh aptly expressed, "The aspirations and ambitions of New India is set to take a giant leap."</p></p><span></div>

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