India has chosen the fourth quarter of 2024 to host its first crewed space mission. Only three countries – the USA/Russia, China, and the USSR/Russia – have launched crewed missions.
Yesterday, India’s Minister of Atomic Energy and Space, Dr. Jitendra Singh, revealed the 2024 target in [PDF] an answer to a question posed by the Lok Sabha (India’s Parliament).
Singh described a mission called “G1”, which will launch in the third quarter of 2023. It will “carry a Humanoid as payload.” The mission will also include a test of parachutes. G2, scheduled for Q2 2024, will do more of this. H1, the crewed flight, will be following in Q4.
Singh stated that astronaut training is underway but did not comment on crew selection to fill the three seats. According to the minister, training will take place in Bengaluru, India, which is a departure from previous Russian training.
India recovered a dummy capsule crew capsule in 2014, and it appears they are still using the technology developed for that test.
Minister’s response resets a program that had previously been scheduled to launch test launches in 2021 but was delayed due to safety concerns and COVID-19 issues.
While the mission plan to use India’s GSLV MkIII heavy-lift booster is unchanged, no new flight plan has been proposed to supplant the seven-day orbital adventure.
India’s space program has a reputation for being extremely economical. The Mangalyaan Mars orbiter was built with just $74 million in the budget (in 2013 dollars). Gaganyaan’s budget exceeds the billion-dollar mark.
Singh had an active day yesterday. He also informed the Lok Sabha about India’s plans for sending a submersible to 6,000m below the waves “for exploration of deep ocean resources like minerals.”
As the kind of stuff the mission will seek, the minister listed Nickel, Cobalt, and Rare Earths as his priorities. Remember that rare earth is necessary for electronics manufacturing, and China dominates world supply. India is thus going to great lengths and depths to find other sources.