The Union Cabinet on Friday approved a budget of Rs 10,000 crore for an indigenous human spaceflight programme, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad announced.
The ambitious mission, dubbed “Gaganyaan”, will carry three Indian astronauts to space for seven days by 2022 at the estimated cost.
The project announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier in August, on successful completion, will make India the fourth nation in the world to do so.
If successful, India would be the fourth nation to achieve the feat after the US, Russia and China.
The mission would be launched using ISRO’s own capabilities.
“Our country has been making a lot of progress in the area of space (science). When India celebrates its 75th Independence Day, or even before that, an Indian son or daughter will undertake a manned space mission on board ‘Gaganyaan’, carrying the national flag,” Modi had said from the Red Fort.
The prime minister said with the launch of the Mangalyaan (Mars Orbiter Mission), space scientists displayed India’s prowess in the field.
Chandrayaan-1 was India’s first lunar probe. It was launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation in October 2008 and operated till August 2009, while the Mangalyaan is a space probe orbiting Mars since September 24, 2014.
Reacting to the prime minister’s call, ISRO Chairman K Sivan had said technologies that would help in sending an Indian astronaut to space – like the human crew module and the environment control and life support system – have already been developed.
Rakesh Sharma, a former IAF pilot, was the first Indian to travel to space. Sharma was a part of the Soviet Union’s Soyuz T-11 expedition, launched on April 2, 1984, as part of the Intercosmos programme.
Indian-born Kalpana Chawla and Indian-origin Sunita Williams are among the known names to have gone to space. Chawla was one of the seven crew members who perished in the space shuttle Columbia disaster during re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere in 2003.
K Radhakrishnan, former ISRO chairman under whose leadership the Mangalyaan mission was launched in 2013, had termed the announcement of Gaganyaan mission a “turning point” for the ISRO.
ISRO is known for its space programme that focuses on projects which matter to the day-to-day lives of people.
However, of late, it has launched missions like Chandrayaan-1 and Mangalyaan (Mars Orbiter Mission) that has aroused tremendous interest among people.
It will launch Chandrayaan-2, which will land a rover on the moon, next year.
(With PTI inputs)