The Gaganyaan manned mission, hit by the pandemic-triggered restrictions, has been further delayed and India’s maiden human spaceflight launch is not likely before 2023. “First unmanned mission is planned in December 2021.
Second unmanned flight is planned in 2022-23, followed by human spaceflight demonstration,” Union minister of state for space Jitendra Singh told the Lok Sabha in a written reply recently. Isro chairman K Sivan told TOI that a “human-rated GSLV MkIII rocket with a modified top portion involving provision for a crew module and a crew escape system is being readied for the first unmanned mission in December and a humanoid to be sent on it will be ready by October”.
The minister also informed Lok Sabha that additional Rs 900 crore was allocated to Isro for financial year 2020-21 for developing capacity and launching satellites. On foreign satellites launched by India, Singh stated that the total number of satellites launched till date is 328 from 33 countries and the revenue earned is “25 million dollars and 189 million euros”.
On Covid restrictions stalling the programme, the minister said in the replythat the astronaut training in Russia was halted over a month “for a period from 28th March, 2020 to 11th May, 2020” and the training “henceforth resumed since 12th May, 2020”.