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"The initial training for Gaganyaan will be done in India and advanced training maybe in Russia. Women astronauts will be there on the team. That's our aim," ISRO chief K Sivan said. "They can be from the Air Force, civilians, man or a woman... anybody," he told NDTV.
Last month, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had announced that three Indian astronauts will be sent to space for up to seven days by 2022 as part of Gaganyaan. The cabinet has cleared of Rs. 10,000 crore for the programme.
ISRO hopes to deploy its biggest rocket, the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV Mk III), to send the astronauts into space from the Sriharikota space port in Andhra Pradesh.
The astronauts will be called "Vyomnauts" since "Vyom" in Sanskrit means space. The ISRO chief said the candidates selected for the space mission will be trained initially in India and then sent abroad for advanced training. "There is a separate process of selection. We have the capacity to have three astronauts in seven days," K Sivan told NDTV.
India has inked agreements with Russia and France for assistance in Gaganyaan.
Till date, ISRO has spent Rs. 173 crore developing critical technologies for human space flight. The plan was first pitched in 2008 but was put on the backburner as the economy and Indian rockets experienced setbacks.
India tested its re-entry technology through the Satellite Recovery Experiment in 2007 when a 550 kilogram satellite was sent into orbit and then safely brought back to earth.
Since an experiment using prototypes of the crew in 2014, ISRO has also mastered the art of making a spacesuit which will be used by Indian astronauts when they get sent into space from Sriharikota.
Chandrayaan-2, the moon mission costing nearly Rs 800 crore, is an advanced version of the previous Chandrayaan-1 mission about 10 years ago. The aim of the mission would be to conduct experiments on the moon and relay crucial information back to earth by placing a rover on the south pole of the moon.
"Right now, Chandrayaan is scheduled from March 25 to April end. Most probably, the normal targeted date is April middle," Mr Sivan told reporters.