India to send its first astronaut to Moon by 2040

India will send its first astronaut to the Moon by 2040, the government said on Tuesday.

The country’s space goals also include plans for a space station by 2035.

Prime Minister Narenda Modi also asked scientists to work on missions to Venus and Mars.

The announcement was made during a meeting to assess the progress of the Gaganyaan Mission – a project that aims to send a three-person crew to an orbit of 400km and bring them safely back to Earth.

It was also confirmed that the launch of the country’s first manned space mission is scheduled for 2025.

“Reviewed the readiness of the Gaganyaan Mission and also reviewed other aspects relating to India’s space exploration efforts,” Mr Modi wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“India’s strides in the space sector over the past few years have been commendable and we are building on them for more successes. This includes the setting up of Bharatiya Antariksha Station by 2030 and sending [the] first Indian to the Moon by 2040.”

New Delhi is set to carry out a unmanned mission test when the Indian Space Research Organisation launches a crew module, part of the Gaganyaan test vehicle, from Satish Dhawan Space Centre on October 21.

The IRSO will conduct 20 major tests, including three unmanned missions involving the human-rated launch vehicle.

Before the first Gaganyaan Mission, India will conduct a test flight that will carry Vyommitra, a female robot astronaut, in 2024.

A crew module will be sent into outer space during the test and brought back to Earth, where it will touch down in the Bay of Bengal.

The country’s navy has already begun practising how to recover the module, the government said.

India became the first country to successfully land a spacecraft near the unexplored south pole of the Moon in August, and the fourth country to achieve a soft landing on the Moon.

The Vikram lander, part of its Chandrayaan-3 mission, landed on the lunar surface on August 23 at 4.34pm (UAE time).

Updated: October 18, 2023, 10:49 AM

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