Amid continuous delays, the Gaganyaan mission has once again been pushed behind as the Indian Space Research Organisation continues to develop and test systems for India's maiden human space mission. The Gaganyaan mission will now launch in the fourth quarter of 2024.

Science & Technology Minister Dr. Jitendra Singh on Wednesday said that India’s maiden human space flight ‘H1’ mission is targeted to be launched in the fourth quarter of 2024. The minister in a written reply informed that the paramount importance is that of the safety of the crew.

"Two Test Vehicle missions are planned before the ‘H1’ mission to demonstrate the performance of the crew escape system and the parachute-based deceleration system for different flight conditions," Dr. Jitendra Singh said. He added that the uncrewed ‘G1’ mission is targeted to be launched in the last quarter of 2023 followed by the second uncrewed ‘G2’ mission in the second quarter of 2024, before the final human space flight ‘H1’ mission in the fourth quarter of 2024.

Dr S. Unnikrishnan Nair, Director of India's Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC)

The minister further informed that, "the first uncrewed flight of Gaganyaan program ‘G1’ mission is aimed at validating the performance of the human rated launch vehicle, Orbital module propulsion system, mission management, communication system, and recovery operations. The mission will carry a humanoid as a payload."

The minister in a written reply informed that the paramount importance is that of the safety of the crew.

The astronauts, who have been selected from the Indian Air Force are currently undergoing mission-specific training at Bengaluru. The astronaut designate have already completed the first-semester training, wherein they have undergone course modules on Theoretical basics, Space medicine, Launch vehicles, spacecraft systems, and ground support infrastructure.

"Regular physical fitness sessions, aeromedical training, and flying practice are also part of crew training. Corresponding evaluation and assessment activities have also been completed. The second semester of crew training is currently in progress," the minister added.

ISRO in November this year conducted the Integrated Main Parachute Airdrop Test (IMAT) of its crew module deceleration system. The test was conducted at the Babina Field Fire Range (BFFR) in the Jhansi district of Uttar Pradesh during which a 5-ton dummy mass, equivalent to the Crew module mass, was taken to an altitude of 2.5 kilometers and dropped using the Indian Air force’s IL-76 aircraft.

The test simulated a unique situation when one main parachute failed to open.

Experts had already indicated that the mission is likely to face another two years of delay as ISRO focuses on perfecting the system that will launch and land Indians on missions to space. Gaganyaan was initially planned to be launched in 2022 to mark India's 75th year of independence.

However, it faced several setbacks due to the Covid-19 pandemic and successive lockdowns.