17:35 GMT28 May 2020
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    New Delhi (Sputnik): India’s space agency the ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) is gearing up for its week-long space mission worth $1.31 billion. Four astronauts have been shortlisted from the Indian Air Force after a series of tests conducted in India and Russia.

    ISRO Chief K. Sivan said on Wednesday that four shortlisted astronauts would be sent to Russia for an 11-month training program by the end of January, in preparation for India's first crewed space mission – 'Gaganyaan' – scheduled for January 2022.

    Addressing the media in New Delhi, Sivan said so far; Astronaut Rakesh Sharma has been the only Indian to fly to Space, and that was in a Russian module. "But this time Indian astronauts will travel to space in an Indian module and from India."

    The ISRO, in a statement issued during the annual briefing, had stated that the shortlisted astronauts would undergo training in Russia for 11 months and return to India for module-specific training.

    However, when asked whether a human-crewed mission to the moon was on the India space agency's list, Sivan said: "Definitely, but not immediately."

    The spacecraft, which is supposed to carry the astronauts, is a 3.7-tonne capsule designed to maximise the safety and security of the crew.

    To prevent any untoward incident, the ISRO will conduct two crewless missions and has set up a 'Human Space Flight Centre' in Bengaluru to implement the Gaganyaan project.

    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the Ganganyaan project last year during his Independence Day speech on 15 August, stating that the project will take off in the 75th year of India's Independence. The country celebrated its 73rd independence day in 2019.


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    space mission, Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), New Delhi, India
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