India’s PM Modi names four astronauts for first crewed mission to space

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India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the names of four astronauts selected for the country’s first crewed space mission, as the South Asian nation continues to deepen its prowess in the sector.

India plans to demonstrate its human spaceflight capabilities in a mission called Gaganyaan, scheduled to launch by 2025. The crew will be launched into an orbit 400 kilometers (248.55 miles) away for a three-day mission.

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The astronauts — Group Captains Prashanth Nair, Ajit Krishnan, Angad Pratap, and Wing Commander Shubhanshu Shukla — are undergoing training, which includes flight simulations and physical fitness tests, at a facility in the southern city of Bengaluru, according to the Indian Space Research Organization’s website.

While the first Indian to go into outer space, Rakesh Sharma, achieved the feat 40 years back, he had traveled aboard a Soviet rocket to the erstwhile USSR’s space station.

Next milestone

The ambitious crewed mission marks the latest milestone in India’s efforts to bolster its space exploration program that aims to make a Moon landing in 2040.

India launched its first satellite in January to collect data on black holes, has already sent a probe to study the sun and became the first country to land its spacecraft near the lunar south pole last year after Russia failed in a similar attempt.

India’s other ambitions include setting up a space station by 2035 and a Venus orbiter as well as a Mars lander.

India last week amended the foreign direct investment limits for the space sector allowing companies to invest in manufacturing units and satellite services.

The global companies will get automatic approvals for owning as much as 74 percent stake in satellite manufacturing and data products, as well as 49 percent in rockets and associated subsystems, and space ports.

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