India is ready to send humans to the space. On the occasion of India’s Independence Day today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced during his Red Fort speech that India is all set to launch its first manned space mission Gaganyaan in 2022.

Delivering the fifth and final Independence Day speech as the Prime Minister of India, PM Narendra Modi outline and ambitious plan for India’s space missions – the country’s first-ever manned space mission – Gaganyaan. Modi announced that an Indian astronaut – man or woman – will be sent for a space mission in the Gaganyaan spacecraft by the Indian Space and Research Organisation (ISRO) in 2022. With the launch of the manned space odyssey, India will join the club of countries that are able to conduct independent human space missions.

Till date, only three nations – Russia, US and China have been able to send humans into space independently; and India will join in 2022. While ISRO already has an extremely tight schedule with plans of launching 2 spacecraft each month, the Chandryaan-2 in January next year and the Gaganyaan mission will make it a bigger challenge – but “ISRO will do it by 2022”. ISRO has already started the ground work and has roped in the Indian Air Force pilots to identify the first set of astronauts for a human space flight.

To make the Gaganyaan mission a success, the government has already granted Rs 145 crore for initial studies to conduct the manned space mission; and the entire project could cost a whopping $2 billion, which is yet to be granted. Besides the challenge of limited time and a massive bill, the biggest challenge would be safety of the astronaut travelling in Gaganyaan. But PM Modi believes that all these will be possible as “India used to be a sleeping elephant, but it has already started walking and will soon begin running”.