Bolangir: The Indian Air Force Friday said that it has completed the first level of selecting astronauts for the ambitious Gaganyaan mission from its pool of test pilots at the Institute of Aerospace Medicine in Bangalore.
Among the 25 test pilots for the initial selection process was Wing Commander Nikhil Rath from Bolangir, Odisha.
Nikhil is the son of Ashok Rath, a renowned advocate and leader of Bolangir district and Kusum Rath, a member of Mahila Commission.
Nikhil completed his schooling from Kendriya Vidyalaya in 1998 and 12th from Delhi Public School in 2000. He was selected for National Defence Academy (NDA) while pursuing his graduation at Hindu College. In 2003, he joined the Indian Air Force (IAF).
Mission Gaganyaan aims to launch an Indian-crewed spacecraft by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) by 2022.
The first Gaganyaan flight scheduled for 2022 will carry three astronauts, who will be picked from among the test pilots in the armed forces.
The Gaganyaan project is worth Rs 10,000 crore. It was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his Independence Day speech in 2018. A three-member Indian crew will be sent to space for a period of seven days. The spacecraft will circle the earth at a distance of 300-400 km.
Two unmanned and one manned flight will be undertaken as part of the Gaganyaan mission.