27 Feb 2024

Four astronauts for ISRO’s Gaganyaan Mission symbolize trust, courage, valor and discipline of today’s India: PM Modi

In a visit to the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, Prime Minister Narendra Modi disclosed the identities of the four astronauts chosen for the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) Gaganyaan mission. This marks India's inaugural crewed space mission to low-Earth orbit.

The selected astronauts, Group Captain Prashanth Balakrishnan Nair, Angad Prathap, Ajit Krishnan, and Shubanshu Shukla, all hold the ranks of wing commanders or group captains in the Indian Air Force (IAF). With extensive experience as test pilots, they are well-equipped to handle unforeseen challenges in flight situations.

Originating from Nenmara in Palakkad, Nair joined the Air Force in 1999 after completing an engineering degree from NSS College in Palakkad. The astronauts have been undergoing rigorous training at ISRO's astronaut training facility in Bengaluru. The selection process took place at the Institute of Aerospace Medicine within the IAF, with only three of them eventually participating in the Gaganyaan mission.

Astronauts underwent training in Russia

The collaboration between ISRO and Glavkosmos, a subsidiary of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, involved a memorandum of understanding signed in June 2019 for the training of four astronauts. From February 2020 to March 2021, the astronauts underwent training at Russia's Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre.

The Gaganyaan mission aims to showcase India's human spaceflight capability, launching astronauts to an orbit 400 kilometers above Earth for a 3-day mission, followed by a safe return with a landing in the Indian sea waters.

Astronauts are carrying the aspirations of 140 crore Indians into space: PM

Referring to the astronaut-designates, the Prime Minister said that their names have been conjoined with India’s success and they symbolize the trust, courage, valor and discipline of today’s India. He lauded their dedication and spirit towards training and said that they are the representatives of India’s Amrit generation that never gives up and shows the strength to challenge all adversities. 

Highlighting the need for a healthy body and a healthy mind for this mission, the Prime Minister noted the role of Yoga as part of the training module. “The country’s wishes and blessings are upon you”, PM Modi said. He also conveyed his best wishes to all the staff trainers from ISRO associated with the Gaganyaan project. 

PM Modi also conveyed some concerns about the celebrity attention to the four astronaut-designates which can create disturbance in their training. He appealed for cooperation with the astronaut-designates and their families so that they continue their training without distraction. 

The Prime Minister was briefed about Gaganyaan. He expressed happiness that most of the equipment in Gaganyaan is Made in India. He noted the happy coincidence of Gaganyaan’s preparation with India’s upcoming entry into the top 3 economies of the world. He said that projects that were dedicated today will lead to new jobs and will raise India’s profile. 

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