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India Announces They’ll Be Sending Humans To Space For The First Time

India is looking to become the fourth nation in the world to send its citizens into space. America, China, and Russia are the only other countries in the world to hold the same honor. The plan is to send four astronauts up into space in 2022. The identities of these individuals have been kept anonymous for now, as plans for the space mission are still in their preliminary stages. 

According to sources, India has been developing a spacecraft, known as Gaganyaan, that would let up to three individuals go into space and orbit the Earth for up to a week. The announcement came from the India Space Research Organization, or ISRO, which held a press conference about the mission on New Year’s Day. 

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Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Kailasavadivoo Sivan 

During the conference Kailasavadivoo Sivan, ISRO’s chairman pictured above, briefed over 100 media personnel about the mission and the four astronauts’ intensive training, which he mentioned would begin in Russia in a couple of weeks.

In addition to their first human-made space journey, ISRO is hoping to make up for their failed moon rover mission from 2018. Last year, India sent a small solar-powered space rover to the moon in order to land and collect data. However, the rover, known as the Chandrayaan-2, unfortunately crashed during a failed landing. ISRO states that the crash was due to a system malfunction that tampered with the landing gears in the rover. However, this incident was after a rather successful first moon rover mission from 2008. 

“India’s first successful lunar mission, Chandrayaan-1, put a spacecraft in orbit around the moon in 2008 and then later sent a probe hurtling toward the moon’s south pole, where it deliberately crashed and released material that was analyzed by the orbiter’s scientific instruments, helping to confirm the presence of water ice on the Moon,” according to Nell Greenfieldboyce, who covered ISRO’s recent conference.

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Now, ISRO is hoping to make up for that malfunction by sending their newest rover, the Chandrayaan-3, to the moon. That mission is completely separate from the Gaganyaan mission; however, both were recently approved by the Indian government, so the announcements were made together. 

“The Chandrayaan-2 mission also included an orbiting spacecraft, however, that is still circling the moon and functioning well. That means it can be used by Chandrayaan-3’s rover to relay communications back to Earth,” said Greenfieldboyce

Since the first two space rover missions, India’s space program received a huge boost in public and political interest. Funding increased, and so did a desire for further exploration and expansion into the unknown.

Back in 2014, the ISRO was able to learn even more by putting a satellite into Mars’ orbit. At the time, this was a huge deal for India’s space program as they got to Mars before China, their biggest rival in terms of technology and space exploration. This made India the first Asian country to make it to Mars as well as the first nation in the world to reach it on their first attempt without any malfunctions.

The Chandrayaan-3 moon rover mission will likely occur before India is able to send their astronauts up into space, but both projects are predicted to launch within the next two to three years.