Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chief K Sivan.(File photo)
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chief K Sivan.(File photo)

India’s human space flight mission ‘Gaganyaan’ to be delayed by a year due to Covid-19

The pandemic has also delayed other big-ticket missions that ISRO had planned for the year, including India’s first solar mission – Aditya L1 – scheduled for mid-2020
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By HT Correspondent | Edited by Smriti Sinha
UPDATED ON DEC 07, 2020 02:07 PM IST

India’s first human space flight mission, Gaganyaan, is likely to be delayed by a year owing to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic. “That (Ganganyaan mission) will be delayed because of Covid,” ISRO chairperson K Sivan told PTI.

“We are targeting for some time next year-end or the subsequent year,” he said on being asked about the two uncrewed missions before an astronaut is sent to space. The first of these was scheduled for December 2020, the second for June 2021, before the first manned mission on December 2021 ahead of the Prime Minister’s deadline. In his Independence Day address of 2018, the PM had said that an Indian astronaut will be sent to space before the country celebrates its 75th year of Independence in 2022.

The pandemic has also delayed other big-ticket missions that ISRO had planned for the year, including India’s first solar mission – Aditya L1 – scheduled for mid-2020.

Also read | Shukrayaan: India’s proposed Venus mission attracts international payload proposals

Space activity cannot be done through work from home. Each and every one of the space engineers has to be available in labs, industries, integration areas, as well as the field. Each engineer, technician, tech assistant has to come all from different centres and work together for a launch. Hardware from different parts of the country has to be transported to SHAR (the launch site),” Sivan had said after the first launch of the year took place on November 7, when India’s workhorse PSLV carried an Indian Earth Observation Satellite along with nine international satellites to orbit.

ISRO chief had said that the PSLV will launch a communication satellite next, followed by the second earth observation satellite EOS 02 in its maiden flight.

Apart from the solar mission, ISRO was to also send a lander-rover mission to moon either by 2020-end or 2021 beginning. “We have not yet fixed the schedule (for the Chandrayaan-3 launch),” Sivan told PTI.

The space agency is reviewing all its future missions, including the Venus mission that had been planned for June 2023. If missed, the next launch window would be after 19 months when the planet is closest to the Earth.

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