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Moon Mission : IAF to pick 10 potential astronauts in 2 months, Isro chief says

The Indian Air Force (IAF) will “screen and select 10 potential crew members for the country’s first manned space mission in two months”. Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) chairman K Sivan told TOI that the space agency will choose the final three astronauts from the ten people who the IAF would train.

The Isro chief said, “We have an agreement with the IAF for crew training at Isro’s Human Space Flight Centre in Bengaluru. IAF will screen around 10 crew members for the mission. This screening and selection will happen within one to two months. Isro will finally choose three members from these 10 crew members for the human spaceflight mission.”

Preparations for the country’s first manned mission to space are in full swing as Isro recently held its first meeting of the national advisory council (NAC), where representatives of all organisations and institutes involved in the Gaganyaan project participated. The agency also tested CE-20 engine, meant for the upper stage of human-rated GSLV MK-III, which will be carrying Indian astronauts to space.

Speaking to TOI, Sivan said, “In the NAC meet on June 8, Air Vice-Marshal R G K Kapoor, assistant chief of air staff operations (space), Rear Admiral D S Gujarl, assistant chief of naval staff, Defence Research and Development Organisation director G Satheesh Reddy, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited chairman and managing director R Madhavan and veterans of different institutes attended the meeting. All these agencies will play crucial roles in the mission. Whilel the IAF will handle crew selection and training, DRDO will provide the life support system for crew and Navy will help in recovering the human capsule once it re-enters the atmosphere and splashes down in sea.”

The ISRO chairman said the meeting, also attended by former Indian astronaut Rakesh Sharma, discussed the overall plan, including crew training. “The NAC is mandated to meet once in six months to review the preparedness of the mission (scheduled to be launched before or by 2021). But we have decided to initially hold the review meeting once in three months in order to streamline the process,” he said.

On the Chandrayaan-2 mission, Sivan said “the integration of GSLV Mk III has been going on at Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota for quite some time. However, the lunarcraft will be on display at Bengaluru’s U R Rao Satellite Centre for the media for the next two days before being taken to Sriharikota for integration with the GSLV rocket”.

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