NEW DELHI (AP) — India successfully carried out Saturday the first of a series of key test flights after overcoming a technical glitch ahead of its planned mission to take astronauts into space by 2025, the space agency said.
The test involved launching a module to outer space and bringing it back to earth to test the spacecraft’s crew escape system, said the Indian Space Research Organization chief S. Somanath, and was being recovered after its touchdown in the Bay of Bengal.
The launch was delayed by 45 minutes in the morning because of weather conditions. The attempt was again deferred by more than an hour because of an issue with the engine, and the ground computer put the module’s lift-off on hold, said Somanath.
The glitch caused by a monitoring anomaly in the system was rectified and the test was carried out successfully 75 minutes later from the Sriharikota satellite launching station in southern India, Somnath told reporters.
It would pave the way for other unmanned missions, including sending a robot into space next year.
In September, India successfully launched its first space mission to study the sun, less than two weeks after a successful uncrewed landing near the south pole region of the moon.
After a failed attempt to land on the moon in 2019, India in September joined the United States, the Soviet Union and China as only the fourth country to achieve the milestone.
The successful mission showcased India’s rising standing as a technology and space powerhouse and dovetails with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s desire to project an image of an ascendant country asserting its place among the global elite.
Signaling a roadmap for India’s future space ambitions, Modi earlier this week announced that India’s space agency will set up an Indian-crafted space station by 2035 and land an Indian astronaut on the moon by 2040.
Active since the 1960s, India has launched satellites for itself and other countries, and successfully put one in orbit around Mars in 2014. India is planning its first mission to the International Space Station next year in collaboration with the United States.
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