ISRO Gaganyaan mission: Astronauts will be chosen this year

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Representational Image
Representational Image

New Delhi : India's first manned mission to space, Gaganyaan is scheduled to be launched on early 2022. A source close to the development confirms that astronauts to fly in the said space mission will be selected this year. And, the air force is getting ready to identify a pool of ace pilots who would undergo a battery of tests, including psychological assessments. 

A senior air force officer confirmed that the formal request for astronauts is pending and the IAF is close contact with the ISRO. The selection of astronauts to fly in the Gaganyaan mission would be over by the end of this 2019. India is planning to launch the mission before the country's 75th Independence Day.

“The crew will have three members but we will need to have a pool of pilots identified who will be evaluated in all aspects and trained before the mission,” the officer said. 

While the selection parameters have not been disclosed, officials said that test pilots of the air force who are specially trained to handle emergency situations and experimental aircraft are likely to be part of the first Gaganyaan mission. The IAF has two sets of test pilots for fixed wing planes and rotary aircraft. 

The upcoming space mission will also have a woman astronaut who will be selected from the pool of military pilots in India. The IAF has recently inducted women fighter pilots who could be considered for the project. It also has a pool of women pilots with considerable experience in flying transport aircraft and choppers. “The first mission will have trained pilots but in the future, it has to be decided what kind of crew is required, depending on the mission. In other countries, scientists and specialised personnel are also sent to space,” the officer said.