PM Modi Unveils Names of Four Gaganyaan Mission Astronauts at ISRO Center in Kerala

Prime Minister Narendra Modi introduced the world to the four astronauts-elect chosen for the Gaganyaan mission: Group Captain Prashanth Nair, Group Captain Angad Prathap, Group Captain Ajit Krishnan, and Wing Commander Shubhanshu Shukla. All four, who were short-listed four years ago, are Indian Air Force (IAF) test pilots from the Aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment (ASTE) in Bengaluru.

Initially, a significant number of test pilots had volunteered for the astronaut program, with 12 making it past the first selection level completed in September 2019. After rigorous rounds of selection, the Institute of Aerospace Medicine (IAM) and Isro finalized the quartet.

The journey to this point has seen setbacks, including the omission of a previously indicated test pilot, Chavan. However, the focus remains on the achievements and dedication of the chosen four.

Isro chairman S Somanath highlighted the completion of significant projects on time, marking substantial additions to Isro’s infrastructure. These projects include the PSLV integration facility, semi-cryogenics integrated engine and stage test facility, and Trisonic wind tunnel.

The path to selection involved extensive training, including a stint in Russia, despite delays induced by Covid-19. The four astronauts-elect have been undergoing various training modules in India, supported by partnerships with multiple agencies and armed forces.

PM Modi emphasized the need for cooperation and support for the astronauts-elect, acknowledging their sacrifices and the challenges ahead. He reiterated India’s commitment to indigenization in the space sector, fostering scientific temper, and empowering women in STEM.

Furthermore, PM Modi outlined ambitious plans for India’s space exploration, including returning to the Moon, exploring Venus, establishing a space station by 2035, and sending an Indian astronaut to the Moon using indigenous spacecraft and rocket by the Amrit Kaal.