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India’s PM Modi Unveils Crew Members Of ‘Gaganyaan’ Mission

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Just months after making history with a momentous landing on the moon’s South Pole, India hopes to become the fourth nation in history to launch India’s first manned mission into space, introducing four crew members for its inaugural ‘Gaganyaan’ space project on Tuesday.

The first mission of its sort for India, Gaganyaan, or “sky craft” in Hindi, is expected to cost roughly 90.23 billion rupees ($1.1 billion). Over the course of the following year, a liveable space capsule will be sent into an orbit 400 kilometers (250 miles) in the Indian Ocean, and it will land there to return.

At Isro’s Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre in Thiruvananthapuram, capital of southern Indian state of Kerala, on Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave “astronaut wings” to the four crew members, all of whom were air force personnel. These four astronauts, among whom group captains are Angad Prathap, Ajit Krishnan and Prashanth Nair and wing commander Shubhanshu Shukla. These astronauts have been training at the training facility in Bengaluru (capital of another southern state of Karnataka).

Modi declared on X and in a statement that Gaganyaan is a “historic” accomplishment for India. This comes forty years after Rakesh Sharma, an air force officer, became the first Indian to journey to space—on a Soviet mission. Modi addressed space scientists, saying, “Time is ours, countdown is ours, and so is the rocket.”

The only countries having launched crewed space missions of their own are the US, Russia, and China. More than thirty different nations have sent astronauts into space on American or Russian programs.

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