The Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi has announced the country will attempt to launch its first manned space mission by 2022.
Modi made the announcement during a speech commemorating India’s Independence Day on Wednesday.
“India will send into space – a man or a woman – by 2022, before that if possible,” Modi said. “In the year 2022 or, if possible before, India will unfurl the tricolour in space.”
India would be the fourth country to put a human in space using its own national space programme if it succeeds. Russia, the United States, and China are the only countries that have so far successfully done so.
India’s space programme has a budget of about $1.6bn, less than 10 percent of the US’ and about 15 percent of Russia’s.
Despite such a small budget, India has made remarkable progress.
In 2014, India was the first Asian nation to reach Mars on a budget of just $74m, compared with NASA’s Maven Mars mission that had a $671m price tag.
The Mangalyaan probe reached Earth’s neighbouring planet to collect scientific data and serve as a precursor for future, more advanced missions.
Modi has often hailed India’s space technology, quipping in 2014 a rocket that launched four foreign satellites into orbit had cost less to make than Hollywood film “Gravity”.