Bolangir: Among the 25 shortlisted test pilots, Wing Commander Nikhil Rath from Bolangir district has been selected for ISRO’S ambitious lunar mission – Gaganyaan. Two unmanned and one manned flight will be undertaken as part of the mission, a report said.
Nikhil is the son of Ashok Rath, a renowned advocate and leader of Bolangir district and Kusum Rath, a member of Mahila Commission. After getting selected, Governor of Odisha professor Ganeshi Lal has sent him words of praise and accolades for this rare honour.
Nikhil was selected from among 25 test pilots. However, three other test pilots have also been selected for the lunar mission. All the 25 shortlisted pilots, including Nikhil, will undergo training in Russia for one year before the onset of the space mission under Gaganyaan.
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.
Notably, Indian Air Force had completed the first level of selecting astronauts for ambitious Gaganyaan mission from its pool of test pilots at the Institute of Aerospace Medicine in Bangalore.
The ambitious Gaganyaan project was sanctioned Rs 10,000 crore and was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his Independence Day speech in 2018. A three-member crew will be sent to space for seven days. The spacecraft will circle the earth at a distance of 300-400 km.