Although ISRO had slated the manned space mission in December 2024, the pandemic had played truant with the test schedules

MYSORE: India’s much-awaited maiden manned space mission, Gaganyaan-1, is likely to be scheduled in 2024, just ahead of the Lok Sabha elections on “instructions from the government”.

Originally, the Gaganyaan-1 launch was scheduled for December 2020, but the raging Covid-19 pandemic threw the schedules out of gear, and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) tentatively pushed it further to December 2021.

Although ISRO had slated the manned space mission in December 2024, the pandemic had played truant with the test schedules. Now, with all aspects of the Gaganyaan-1 program firing on all cylinders, the two major tests — Test Vehicle Demonstrations (TV-D1 and TV-D2) — are expected to be carried out in February 2023 and December 2023, respectively.

While TV-D1 will be a high altitude abort test (which will test the crew escape system in case of anything going wrong), the TV-D2 will be an unmanned mission to test whether all parameters of the flight without a crew would work fine during the final mission. Only after that, will the main manned space mission take place. The date of the final mission has not been finalised.

‘Lined Up Series of Tests For Gaganyaan’

But senior scientists from ISRO and Defence Food Research Laboratory (DFRL) under DRDO, confirmed to The New Indian Express that they have been instructed by the government to launch the Gaganyaan-1 manned space mission before the General Elections in 2024. “There have been instructions from the (Union) government that although the Covid-19 pandemic forced delays in the project timeline, we have to try and complete the tests in 2023 so that the project is launched in 2024, before the Lok Sabha elections,” a senior scientist said.

This was on the sidelines of a national conference on futuristic strategies for sustenance of troops in different terrains organised by the DFRL-DRDO in Mysore on Wednesday. DFRL will be supplying the food for the crew of Gaganyaan-1 during the mission. Dr R Umamaheswaran, Director, Human Space Flight Centre (HSFC) of ISRO, who took part as the guest of honour in the conference, said, “We have started work with all capabilities to make it a reality. We have lined up a series of tests for the Gaganyaan mission, including air drop tests scheduled next year,” he said.