- The IAF pilots have undergone medical tests and will train in Russia
- K Sivan did not disclose the identities of the pilots
- On Gaganyaan mission, K Sivan said they are trying for this year's end
Four pilots of the Indian Air Force have been selected for training to go to space in India's first ever manned mission, scheduled to take place by mid-2022, Indian Space Research Organisation or ISRO chief K Sivan told NDTV today. The pilots have already undergone medical tests in India and Russia, and will now receive training there, Mr Sivan said, adding, the design phase of the manned mission is complete.
Mr Sivan, however, did not disclose the identities of the pilots who he said were chosen because they were healthy and fit. The ISRO chief also said they have a longer list of candidates and will discuss if any problem arises with the top four.
Speaking of the unmanned Gaganyaan mission, Mr Sivan said ISRO is trying for it by this year's end or by early 2021. "We are targeting the launch for this year but it may spillover to next year," he said.
For the Chandrayaan 3 mission, the ISRO chief said the existing orbiter will be used and a new launch site has been selected. The country's space programme will attempt the mission after Chandrayaan 2's lander Vikram crash-landed on the Moon in September last year.
Dr Sivan ended the conversation with the famous hug that Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave him after communication with the lander "Vikram" was lost.
"It was a big relief when the Prime Minister hugged me," Mr Sivan said adding that the hug taught him many lessons. Saying that PM Modi understood what happened in his mind, Mr Sivan said that "it was a great thing" that the Prime Minister consoled him.
India is seeking to become only the fourth nation after Russia, the US and China to put a mission on the moon's surface and boost its credentials as a low-cost space power.