The launch of India's unmanned space mission under the first leg of Gaganyaan, planned for December 2020, is likely to be delayed. It was part of the two unmanned missions to be undertaken by the Indian Space Research Organisation ahead of the planned launch of India's maiden human spaceflight under 'Gaganyaan' in December 2021. The likely delay in the first unmanned mission was recently conveyed to the Space Commission, the apex policy making body on space related issues.
- The Space Commission is headed by ISRO Chairman and Department of Space Secretary K Sivan.
- Two years ago, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced the human space mission in his Independence Day address.
- The Gaganyaan mission aims to send a three-member crew to space for a period of five to seven days by 2022 when India completes 75 years of Independence.
- The ISRO had started planning for the mission accordingly. The first unmanned mission was planned in December 2020, the second unmanned mission in June 2021.
- The final and the main component, the manned mission of Gaganyaan, was scheduled six months later in December 2021, much before the 2022 deadline.
- ISRO had earlier indicated that there would be a delay in several missions as the space body's work has been hit by disruptions due to the coronavirus pandemic.
- Among the major projects that have been affected are Chandrayaan-3 and Gaganyaan. Chandrayaan-3, the third mission to the Moon, was scheduled later this year.
- The spacecraft will be placed in a low earth orbit of 300-400 kilometres. The total programme cost is expected to be less than Rs 10,000 crores.
- The training of astronauts has now been resumed and the launch is scheduled to take place as planned, before the 75th anniversary of India's independence in 2022.