Watch this space: A Malayali in orbit and a leak on the space station | Technology News | Space

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As a Keralite going to high school in a class filled with students from across India, it was really difficult for me to deflect all the jokes about Malayalis being everywhere. I mean, it is not my fault that everyone wants to hire us. But now, I have received vindication of sorts — Prashanth Nair, the first Indian astronaut announced in decades, is a Malayali who studied at the same college as my father.

But more important than my feelings as a Malayali are my feelings as an Indian. We are finally doing it. We have taken the biggest step yet towards being a country with the capability to take humans to space independently. Only the United States, Russia, and China have either public and/or commercial human spaceflight programs and India could soon be fourth on the list.

And the moment was a long time coming. Our neighbours to the East sent their first crewed mission in 2003.

In the more than two decades since then, India has surpassed China in terms of population but we have always been a step behind in space exploration. China had its first soft-landing on the Moon in 2013. Chandrayaan-3 only landed on the Moon almost a decade later. Not only did China soft-land on the Moon before India, but it also retrieved a lunar sample with its Chang’e 5 mission in 2020. Chandrayaan-4 is only expected to do the same in 2028.

And of course, when it comes to crewed moon missions, we are not even in the competition, yet. Currently, China’s Tiangong space station is in orbit and it is fully-functioning with astronauts on board. Gaganyaan will take three astronauts to orbit and bring…

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