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Gaganyaan: Astronaut Selection To Take 12-14 Months 

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BANGALORE: From fatigue arising from being in a small capsule to issues arising out of isolation, astronauts (Gaganauts) who will eventually be part of the proposed human spaceflight programme (Gaganyaan) will have a tough time in space and preparing them for the travel will be a challenge for the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) Institute of Aerospace Medicine (IAM).

Exuding confidence of helping the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) send humans into space within the time frame set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, IAM commandant Air Commodore Anupam Agarwal said, “Every aspect of an astronaut’s life is unique. We’ll require 12-14 months to select them and once selected they will be fit for at least 10 years. We wouldn’t want to lose them after all the training and money spent.”

He said that in the space capsule can lead to isolation issues that will amplify even small things (like his co-astronaut picking his nose) can lead to problems.

“Therefore, it is important that there isn’t even the slightest of physiological or psychological imbalance could lead to undesirable actions. So, every small nuance must be taken care of and we are confident that we will be able to do that,” he said.

From culture to individual preferences, everything will be taken into account while selecting the astronauts, he said, adding that the process will be complicated as no country will share this know-how with India.

“Also, we will be the first country to send humans as part of the first mission. All other countries tested their systems by sending animals that brought back some learning,” Agarwal said.

“But we’ll shoulder this responsibility and we will not fail the nation,” he said.

Air Marshal CK Ranjan said that the space has opened up new frontiers for aerospace medicine.

“IAM will be closely involved in the manned mission as far as astronaut selection, training, development of crew module and air quality monitoring et al. We’ll be part of the mission from pre-launch to recovery stage,” he said.

IAF chief Air Marshal BS Dhanoa also expressed confidence of meeting Modi’s deadline. “IAM was actively involved in selection of cosmonauts earlier. We will be involved now and I am sure we’ll be able to do it in a very short notice,” he said.




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