India completes crucial test in crewed space mission after delay

MUMBAI (Reuters) -India on Saturday completed a key test in its ambitious crewed space mission Gaganyaan, hours after halting the planned lift-off, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said.

“Reason for the launch hold is identified and corrected,” ISRO posted on X, the platform formerly called Twitter. “Crew Escape System performed as intended. Mission Gaganyaan gets off on a successful note.”

The agency did not specify the cause of the delay.

The launch had been set for 8 a.m. (0230 GMT) but could not initially be completed. It was successfully completed at 10 a.m., ISRO said.

The Gaganyaan mission is aimed at developing a human-habitable space capsule that will carry a three-member crew into an orbit of 400 km (250 miles) for three days, before splashing down in the Indian Ocean.

ISRO has said it would explore ways to achieve a sustained human presence in space once Gaganyaan is completed.

About 90 billion Indian rupees ($1 billion) has been allocated for the mission, which follows the agency’s historic landing of its Chandrayaan-3 craft on the lunar south pole.

The Gaganyaan mission has been expected to launch from the country’s main spaceport in Sriharikota before 2024, although a schedule had not been announced.

($1 = 83.1500 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Siddhi Nayak; Editing by Lincoln Feast and William Mallard)