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'We will be proud to send PM Modi into space': ISRO Chief S Somnath

ISRO Chairman S Somnath hinted in an interview with NDTV that PM Modi might be the candidate for India’s first manned space mission, ‘Gaganyaan,’ set for 2025.

By Rashaad Ather
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PM Modi And ISRO Chairman S Somnath

PM Modi And ISRO Chairman S Somnath

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Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman S Somnath has revealed that PM Modi can be the candidate for India’s first manned space mission, ‘Gaganyaan’, expected to be launched in 2025. 

The mission is to send Indian astronauts in an India-made space rocket for the first time into the Earth’s low orbit.

Chairman S Somnath expressed pride in taking the head of state to space.

“While he (PM Modi) certainly has many other, more critical responsibilities, developing a human spaceflight program is a capability we would like to cultivate….contribute to the Gaganyaan space program, particularly the astronaut training program for the International Space Station (ISS),” he told NDTV.

Somnath added, “All of us will be very, very proud if we have the ability to confidently send the head of state to space.”

As part of the Gaganyaan Mission, ISRO plans to send three astronauts to an orbit of 400 km for a 3-day mission and return them safely to Earth.

The Gaganyaan mission initially planned for 2020, was delayed to 2025 due to the Covid-19 pandemic and other issues. 

The project, named after the Sanskrit word for "craft" or "vehicle to the sky," has been developed at a cost of ₹90 billion. 

If successful, India will be the fourth country to send a human into space. 

In February, PM Modi unveiled the names of the four pilots selected for India's maiden manned space mission: Group Captain Prasanth Balakrishnan Nair, Group Captain Ajit Krishnan, Group Captain Angad Pratap, and Wing Commander Subhanshu Shukla.

Moon Landing Mission 2040:

During the India Space Congress 2024 on June 26, Somnath mentioned PM Modi's vision to extend human space activity to land on the moon by 2040. However, current rockets are insufficient for round trips to the moon, requiring the development of higher payload capacity rockets.

Somnath relayed the importance of considering commercial viability and enhancing India's industrial capacity for space missions. GSAT-20 is scheduled for a mid-August launch on the Falcon 9.