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Indian Astronauts in space by 2017 using GSLV: ISRO

New Delhi, April 13 (IANS) India will send two astronauts into space using an indigenous rocket and an announcement for this is likely to be made within a couple of months, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) said Tuesday.

In an interview to a private channel, ISRO chairman K. Radhakrishnan said in the next few weeks the government may announce approval of India's most expensive scientific programme - that of putting two Indian astronauts in space.

With this India is set to join the select club of the US, Russia and China that have human space flight capabilities. The announcement has come two days before ISRO's test for an indigenous Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) rocket.

Radhakrishnan told NDTV that India has technical capabilities for sending astronauts into the space. He said government approval for this Rs.124 billion venture may come in a couple of months.

On being asked if it will be announced in the Prime Minister's Independence Day speech, the ISRO chief confirmed that "the approval and announcement could happen even before that".

Radhakrishnan says ISRO is ready to launch Indian astronauts by 2017. "As of now what we have is a pre-project study," he said, adding that the astronaut programme will be implemented in phases.

The first phase is to test the unmanned crew module and a service module in space four years from now. After that the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) will be used to launch the Indian astronauts.

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