Speaking to reporters outside of a gathering, Singh stated that the government had originally scheduled the human space trip for 2022—the year of India’s 75th anniversary of independence—but that the COVID-19 outbreak had caused timetable changes.
According to Singh, “the COVID-19 pandemic had a toll on the training of astronauts in Russia as well as India.” He also mentioned that the Gaganyaan mission’s maiden test flight is slated to happen later this year.
After the initial test flight, the humanoid robot Vyom Mitra, who resembles a lady, will be launched in outer space likely next year, Singh said.
“The Indian Air Force had identified four fighter pilots as the potential crew for the human space flight mission. The potential crew had undergone basic training in Russia. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will send at least two astronauts into a low earth orbit in 2024 after assessing the outcome of the two orbital test flights,” Singh said.
The spacecraft will be launched to a height of 15 kilometres during the test trip, according to officials, where space experts will simulate an abort scenario to ensure the return crew capsule lands on Earth using parachutes.
To refine the technology, a similar abort scenario will be performed on the Gaganyaan crew capsule’s second orbital test flight at a higher altitude.
The Gaganyaan mission, which will cost Rs 10,000 crore, was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Independence Day address in 2018.
The Chandrayaan-3 mission to the moon will also be launched by ISRO sometime in 2019. According to officials, there will be two launch windows for the lunar mission in February and July of 2019.
The Chandrayaan-3 mission replaces the Chandrayaan-2 mission, which crash-landed on the lunar surface.