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Indian Air Force Pilots Gear Up For ISRO’s Ganganyaan Mission

India is gearing up for its first crewed space mission, Gaganyaan. Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the four astronauts designated for the mission: Group Captain Prasanth Balakrishnan Nair, Group Captain Ajit Krishnan, Group Captain Angad Pratap, and Wing Commander Shubhanshu Shukla. They are undergoing training for the mission, set to take off by the end of 2024.

The unmanned test flight, Gaganyaan-1, is scheduled first to check technology readiness. The manned mission will follow, flying a three-member crew into a low earth orbit at 400 km altitude for three days. The astronauts are experienced Indian Air Force test pilots.

ISRO, the Indian Space Research Organisation, successfully tested the cryogenic engine for the mission. The rocket, LVM3, has been modified to meet human rating requirements. The cryogenic engine, Vikas engine, and solid booster have all qualified for the missions.

Preparations include developing life support systems, emergency escape provisions, and crew management aspects. Gaganyaan-1 will test the safe re-entry of the crew module, while a second unmanned flight will test the complete life support system with the presence of a robot, Vyommitra.

The mission marks a significant step for India in space exploration, following Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma’s historic journey in 1984. The astronauts represent the aspirations of 1.4 billion Indians, as described by PM Modi.

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