The Indian Air Force (IAF) on Friday confirmed the completion of the first level of selection, with 12 pilots shortlisted to be the astronauts for the first Indian human spaceflight programme, Mission Gaganyaan.
Officials announced on Twitter that the selection has successfully taken place at the Institute of Aerospace Medicine after pilots went through extensive evaluation including "physical exercise tests, lab investigations, radiological tests, clinical tests & evaluation on various facets of their psychology."
Around 12 test pilots from the IAF have been chosen to be candidates for the maiden human space mission, according to the Times of India.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced Mission Gaganyaan on August 15, 2018, and stated that the project will be completed by 2022. The mission aims at sending a three-person crew to space for seven days in a spacecraft that will be placed in a low earth orbit of 300-400 km.
The overall cost of the programme is expected to be less than Rs 10,000 crore.
Isro had announced in May that the space agency and the IAF signed an agreement for crew selection and training of test pilots for the Gaganyaan mission.
While initial reports stated that the mission will include a three-member crew, it is now believed that the crew will comprise of 4 crew members instead.
Other changes, such as the mission crew comprising of all-male members have also been reported. While the Isro had pushed for female crew members, TOI reported that factors such as less time for conducting intensive selection process made officials "rely on a pool of IAF test pilots." Since the IAF does not have female test pilots, women crew members were left out.
Following the selection procedure, the selected candidates will undergo another round of selection, which is reportedly expected to last for 75 to 90 days.
According to an agreement between Isro and Russia's space agency, Roscosmos signed an agreement on July 1 for providing assistance to India in the development of the launcher, medical examination and space training to astronauts.
In July, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Director-General of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, discussed the "possibilities for the production of space systems in India".