Meet The 4 IAF Fighter Pilots Who Are The Designated Astronauts For Gaganyaan Mission

August 23 2023 was written down in history as the day when India became the first country in the world to land a spacecraft in uncharted territory near the moon’s lunar south pole and the fourth country after the US, Russia and China to make a soft-landing on the moon with its Chandrayaan-3 mission. And now, India is gearing up for Gaganyaan – our first Human Space Mission.

Under the Gaganyaan mission, ISRO will be sending four astronauts into space and orbit the Earth. It would be a three-day-long mission and would launch its crew to an orbit of 400 kilometres before escorting them back to Indian waters. The Gaganyaan mission is set to launch in 2025 and the estimated cost of the mission is somewhere around 90 billion rupees or $1.1 billion, reported Jagran.

In addition to that, a female humanoid named Vyommitra will fly to space ahead of the crewed flight. Vyommitra is designed to simulate human functions and will be equipped with artificial intelligence to interact with the crew during the mission.

On February 28, Prime Minister Narendra Modi introduced the four astronauts designated to embark on the Gaganyaan mission. They are Group Captain Prashanth Nair, Group Captain Angad Prathap, Group Captain Ajit Krishnan and Wing Commander Shubhanshu Shukla. Here’s what we know about each of them.

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Group Captain Prashanth Nair.

The son of Valampil Balakrishnan, a retired engineer, and Koolanghaat Pramila, Group Captain Prashanth Nair was born in Palakkad, Kerala. He joined the National Defence Academy while he was studying at NSS Engineering College in Palakkad. After finishing his training, Prasanth was commissioned on December 19, 1998, in the fighter stream of IAF.

He is a distinguished graduate, having received first-class honours from the US Air Command and Staff College. He is a recipient of the ‘Sword of Honour’ from Hyderabad Air Force Academy.

He is a Cat A Flying Instructor and a test pilot with approximately 3,000 hours of flying experience. He has flown a variety of aircrafts, including Su-30 MKI, MiG- 21, MiG-29, Hawk, Dornier and An-32. He also commanded a premier fighter, Su-30 Sqn, reported Indian Express.

Group Captain Angad Prathap.

Born in Prayagraj, Group Captain Angad Prathap is an alumnus of the NDA and was commissioned in the fighter stream of the IAF in 2004. A flying instructor and a test pilot, he has 2000 hours of flying experience and has flown a variety of aircraft such as Su-30 MKI, MiG- 21, MiG-29, Hawk, Jaguar, Dornier, An-32, etc. He rose to the rank of Wing Commander in Dec 2017 and was later promoted to the position of Group Captain.

Image source: X

Group Captain Ajit Krishnan.

Group Captain Ajit Krishnan was born in Chennai. An alumnus of the NDA, he is the recipient of the ‘President’s Gold Medal’ and the ‘Sword Of Honour’ from the Air Force Academy. He was commissioned into the IAF in 2003 and promoted to the rank of Wing Commander in June 2016. A flying instructor, he has 2,900 hours of flying experience on aircraft such as Su-30 MKI, MiG- 21, MiG-29, etc. He is also an alumnus of Defence Services Staff College, Tamil Nadu.

Wing Commander Shubhanshu Shukla.

Born in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, in 1985 and an alumnus of the NDA, Shubhanshu Shukla was commissioned in 2006 in the fighter stream of the IAF. According to Hindustan Times, he is a fighter combat leader and a test pilot with 2000 hours of flying experience and has flown a variety of aircraft including Su-30 MKI, MiG-21, MiG-29, Jaguar, Hawk, Dornier, An-32, etc.

Image source: X

Can’t wait to witness the launch!

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