The Indian Air Force (IAF) has announced the completion of the first level of selection of astronauts for the ambitious mission, scheduled for some time in 2022. The force will select a three-member team who will receive training in Russia.
"IAF completed Level-1 of Indian Astronaut selection at the Institute of Aerospace Medicine. Selected Test Pilots underwent extensive physical exercise tests, lab investigations, radiological tests, clinical tests & evaluation on various facets of their psychology," the IAF said on Friday morning.
India’s national space agency, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), wants to finalise its list of crew members by the end of 2019 and later, the selected members will receive training at the newly- built human space flight centre in the southern city of Bengaluru in the state of Karnataka. They will only receive advanced training only in Russia.
India and Russia have already signed an agreement to select and train astronauts for the programme, which is expected to cost more than $1.31 billion.
India’s manned space mission would coincide with the 75th anniversary of its independence. Last month, India ordered Russian space equipment to ensure the timely preparation of the mission, which will also include two unmanned flights, in December 2020 and July 2021.
If completed successfully, the mission would place India among a limited group of countries in the world which have reached this landmark —after Russia, the US and China.