ISRO’s inaugural flight of Gaganyaan would not have any women astronauts onboard. According to ISRO officials, they are looking for test pilots from the Armed Forces, and sadly, the Armed Forces do not have any women on their team. However, ISRO is not ruling out women as potential pilots or crew altogether but for this isolated mission. An official from ISRO assured everyone that for future manned missions of ISRO, civilians, including women, can and will be a part of it. Even India’s first man in space was a man, Rakesh Sharma, an Indian Air Force pilot.
ISRO had already begun the process of selecting candidates, and as such, they have made a list of the short-listed probable candidates for the mission. It is expected that the list for people chosen for this mission will be completed by next month. Those selected, albeit lucky, people will be sent to Russia for necessary and proper training in November.
The idea of employing test pilots for ISRO’s debut manned mission sprang from various countries’ already existing manned missions. ISRO is just following in their steps. The ISRO official said, “Most maiden missions undertaken by different countries in the past had test pilots. So we are adopting the same policy. The civilians will be part of the project in future missions.” The Gaganyaan flight which is scheduled to take off in 2022 will carry three astronauts chosen from the Armed Forces.
Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi announced the Gaganyaan mission back in 2018 as a part of his Independence speech. The total cost of the mission is estimated to be somewhere around Rs. 10,000 crore which includes the cost of technology development, flight hardware realization and essential infrastructure elements. The Gaganyaan mission will have two unmanned and one manned flight.