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Gaganyaan's first unmanned launch slated for December 2021: Sitharaman

NEW DELHI (PTI):  The launch of the first unmanned mission of Gaganyaan is slated for December, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Monday. The mission was originally scheduled for launch in December 2020 but had to be postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In her budget speech, Sitharaman said as part of Gaganyaan, India's manned space mission, four Indian astronauts are being trained on generic space flight aspects in Russia.

"The first unmanned launch is slated for December 2021," Sitharaman said.

The Rs 10,000 crore Gaganyaan mission aims to send a three-member crew to space for a period of five to seven days by 2022 when India completes 75 years of independence.

The ISRO had started planning for the mission accordingly. The first unmanned mission was planned in December 2020, the second unmanned mission in June 2021.

The final and the main component, the manned mission of Gaganyaan, was scheduled six months later in December 2021, much before the 2022 deadline.

ISRO had earlier indicated that there would be a delay in several missions as the space body's work has been hit by disruptions due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Among the major projects that have been affected are Chandrayaan-3 and Gaganyaan. Chandrayaan-3, the third mission to the moon, was scheduled in late 2020.

Staff members from ISRO's different centres were infected with COVID-19 during the pandemic and only essential and process-related work was going on. The related industry was also affected due to the coronavirus lockdown.

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