Modi reveals names of astronauts for India’s first manned space mission | Space

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New Delhi, Feb 27 (EFE).- Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday revealed the names of four astronauts for the country’s first manned mission to space, expected to be launched before the end of next year.

“I am happy that today I got the opportunity to meet these astronauts and present them in front of the country. I want to congratulate them on behalf of the entire country (…) You are the pride of today’s India,” Modi said at an event at the Vikram Sarabhai space center in the southern state of Kerala.

The prime minister presented ‘astronaut wings’ on Tuesday to Group Captains Prashanth Nair, Ajit Krishnan, and Angad Pratap, and Wing Commander Shubhanshu Shukla.

The four are pilots of the Indian Air Force (IAF) and have been receiving training at the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) in the southern city of Bengaluru, according to local newspaper Indian Express.

The pilots follow the footsteps of other Indian astronauts such as Rakesh Sharma, who was the first Indian to travel to space in 1984 aboard Soyuz T-11, in a joint space mission between the former Soviet Union and India; and Kalpana Chawla, the first Indian-origin woman to travel to space on a NASA mission in 1997.

Now “the time is ours, the countdown is ours, and the rocket is also ours,” Modi said.

The project, known as Gaganyaan, has a budget of over $1.08 billion, and it plans to demonstrate “human spaceflight capability” by launching the crew to an “orbit of 400 kilometers for a three-day mission,” ISRO said on its website.

ISRO chief S.Somanath said earlier this month that the country’s manned space mission was expected to launch by the end 2025.

India has boosted its space industry in recent years.

In August, India became the first to successfully land on the Lunar South Pole through its Chandrayaan-3 mission.

In September, the country launched its first mission to study the Sun, Aditya-L1. India plans to build a space station by 2035 and to…

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