India will launch two uncrewed missions next year before Gaganyaan, which is currently planned for late 2022. Union minister Jitendra Singh also said that the Venus mission is planned for 2023, a solar mission for 2022-2023 and a space station by 2030. The minister said an astronaut training facility is being established at Bangalore and that it is at an advanced stage of completion

New Delhi: India will launch two uncrewed missions next year before the human spaceflight programme ‘Gaganyaan’, which is planned for 2022-end, Union minister Jitendra Singh said on Thursday.

Sharing the status of other space projects during question hour in Rajya Sabha, Singh said the Venus mission is planned for 2023, the solar mission for 2022-2023 and that of the Indian space station by 2030.

The minister of state in the department of space said that space projects have been delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In the next year, we are going to have two unmanned missions before flying the Gaganyaan. That is also in the planning. That is usually the SoP (standard operating procedure) which is followed. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it got delayed,” he said.

“In the beginning of next year, possibly, India will first launch uncrewed missions ahead of Gaganyaan,” which is towards the end of 2022, he said, adding that it would be accompanied by robots that have been named “Vayumitra”.

“Following that, we will possibly in 2023 have Gaganyaan, which will undoubtedly place India in the elite club of nations, being the fourth after the US, China and Russia,” he added.

“The design of all systems of Gaganyaan has been completed. Realisation of various systems are in different stages of progress. Ground qualification tests of human rated launch vehicle propulsion stages have been already commenced and successfully progressing,” the minister said in a separate written reply.

He said the major missions, vis-a-vis test vehicle flight for validation of crew escape system performance and the first uncrewed mission of Gaganyaan (G1), are scheduled during the beginning of the second half of 2022.

This will be followed by the second un-crewed mission and first crewed mission, Singh said.

The minister said an astronaut training facility is being established at Bengaluru and that it is at an advanced stage of completion.

“Basic aeromedical training and flying practice have been completed as part of Indian leg of training, he said.

The objective of the Rs 9,023 crore Gaganyaan programme is to demonstrate the capability to send humans to low-Earth orbit onboard an Indian launch vehicle and bring them back safely.

The minister said the Gaganyaan programme will be different from other human missions undertaken by other countries in the sense that this will be more cost effective and inclusive.

This program will place India as a frontline nation and will also improve the country’s capabilities as far as its robotic missions are concerned, he said and added that this will also inspire youngsters and start-ups.

Besides the Gaganyaan program, the minister said, “We are going to have a number of other missions. We will have a Venus mission by 2023. Soon, we will have solar missions called ‘Aditya Solar mission’ planned for 2022-23.”

Chandrayaan got delayed due to the pandemic and maybe it will be launched by next year, he said.

“By 2030, we will possibly be able to set up a space station, which will be unique of its kind,” he noted, adding that the journey of India’s ascent to the top has already begun through the space route.

Replying to a supplementary query if ISRO has identified 17 technologies at lower cost from start-ups for use in the Gaganyaan mission, the minister said, “There are going to be several research modules accompanying the Gaganyaan and it will involve start-ups and more than 500 industries”.

For the first time since the country’s Independence, private industry will be involved in space technology, he said.

“As a result of which, we now are going to have a number of partnerships for nano satellites trying to put in their mission in collaboration with ISRO,” he said.

Host technologies can be innovated in a wide range of areas involving the industry, which will pave the way for the newer economy getting generated through the medium of space technology, he added.

Singh also informed the upper house of Parliament that India has so far launched 42 foreign satellites from 34 countries and generated a revenue of $56 million, or Rs 424 crore.