ISRO on January 1 announced that four Indian Air Force pilots have been selected for the ambitious 'Gaganyaan' manned space mission programme, whose astronaut training would commence soon in Russia.
Addressing a press conference, Indian Space Research Organisation chairman K Sivan said four Indian Air Force airmen have been identified for the country's maiden manned space mission and their astronauts training would start from the third week of this month in Russia. "We had good progress in 2019 as regards Gaganyaan. And many of the designs were completed and astronauts' selection process is over. Now four are identified for training purpose..that process is also completed," Sivan said.
A day after Union Minister Jitendra Singh said India will launch Chandrayaan-3 most likely in 2020, Sivan said the activities for the mission were going on very smoothly and the take-off may shift to next year. "One major announcement I wanted to make here officialy is that the government has approved Chandrayaan-3 and the project has been formed. The activities are going on for Chandrayaan-3 very smoothly and its configuration will be similar to that of Chandrayaan-2," he said. Noting that Chandrayaan-2 orbiter's mission life was seven years, he said it would be used for the third lunar mission as well. The objective of Chandrayaan-3 would also be to land in the lunar south pole, he said.
Asked what went wrong with the Vikram lander of Chandrayaan-2, he said it was due to velocity reduction failure. "The velocity reduction failure was due to internal reasons," he said. Chandrayaan-2 mission was India's first attempt to land on the lunar surface. ISRO had planned the landing on the south pole of the lunar surface. However, Vikram hard-landed. Sivan also congratulated the Chennai based techie who recently located the Vikram lander that hard-landed and maintained that it was the space agency's policy not to release pictures of the crashed module.
India has signed agreements with Russia and France for cooperation on the ambitious Gaganyaan mission, which was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his Independence Day speech in 2018.