India’s target to send astronauts to space is December 2021: ISRO chief

On Friday, ISRO chief K Sivan said that the space agency had set a target of sending Indian astronauts, including women, to space by December 2021, as part of its ambitious human spaceflight project, the Gaganyaan mission.

Earlier, the target had been 2022.

Sivan’s comments came during a press conference in Bengaluru, where ISRO briefed the media about upcoming missions.

The announcement of the Gaganyaan project was first made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on India’s 72nd Independence Day – his fifth and final address ahead of the next general elections.

“The initial training for Gaganyaan will be done in India and advanced training maybe in Russia. Women astronauts will be there on the team. That’s our aim,” says K. Sivan

Last month, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had announced that three Indian astronauts will be sent to space for up to seven days by 2022 as part of Gaganyaan. The cabinet has cleared of Rs. 10,000 crore for the programme.

The astronauts will be called “Vyomanauts” since “Vyom” in Sanskrit means space. The ISRO chief said the candidates selected for the space mission will be trained initially in India and then sent abroad for advanced training.

India has inked agreements with Russia and France for assistance in Gaganyaan.

Till date, ISRO has spent Rs. 173 crore developing critical technologies for human space flight. The plan was first pitched in 2008 but was put on the backburner as the economy and Indian rockets experienced setbacks.

India tested its re-entry technology through the Satellite Recovery Experiment in 2007 when a 550-kilogram satellite was sent into orbit and then safely brought back to earth.

Since an experiment using prototypes of the crew in 2014, ISRO has also mastered the art of making a spacesuit which will be used by Indian astronauts when they get sent into space from Sriharikota.

Chandrayaan-2, the moon mission costing nearly Rs. 800 crores, is an advanced version of the previous Chandrayaan-1 mission about 10 years ago. The aim of the mission would be to conduct experiments on the moon and relay crucial information back to earth by placing a rover on the lunar surface.

“Right now, Chandrayaan is scheduled from March 25 to April end. Most probably, the normal targeted date is April middle,” Sivan told reporters.


ISRO hopes to deploy its biggest rocket, the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV Mk III), to send the astronauts into space from the Sriharikota space port in Andhra Pradesh.

The astronauts will be called “Vyomanauts” since “Vyom” in Sanskrit means space.



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