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HomeLatest NewsIndian citizen astronaut to be part of SERA programme | India News

Indian citizen astronaut to be part of SERA programme | India News

BENGALURU: US-based agency Space Exploration and Research Agency (SERA), in collaboration with Blue Origin, Monday announced India as a partner nation in their human spaceflight programme for citizens from countries who have sent few or no astronauts to space.
SERA will offer citizens from across the world six seats on a future mission of New Shepard, Blue Origin’s reusable suborbital rocket.
Last month, in an exclusive interview to TOI, the founders of SERA, Joshua Skurla and Sam Hutchison had said they were keen on partnering with India too. “…One of the things we love about India as a potential partner country is all of its space infrastructure and activity. India can take a leadership role among other nations and demonstrate its strength and leadership, which has kept our interest,” Skurla had told TOI.
On Monday, SERA said the New Shepard will fly the selected astronauts on an 11-minute journey past the Kármán line (100 km), the internationally recognised boundary of space. Astronauts will experience several minutes of weightlessness before making a controlled descent back to the landing pad.
“We’re excited to have India as part of our human spaceflight programme. India has achieved remarkable milestones in its space journey the past few years, including becoming the first country to reach the Moon’s south pole region. We want to make space accessible for everyone and are happy to offer this unique opportunity to an Indian citizen who wants to experience the wonders of space travel,” Skurla said.
Any Indian citizen can register for the programme by paying a fee of around $2.5 to cover the costs of verification checks that ensure safe and fair voting. The final candidates will be voted on by the public for an opportunity to fly to space onboard the New Shepard mission.
“Our mission is to democratise space by enabling citizens from over 150 countries with limited access to space to participate in ground-breaking research and create history. Our aim is to empower people globally to have a voice and stake in the future of space exploration,” Skurla said.
The potential astronauts will be required to meet Blue Origin’s physical requirements. They can garner votes by telling their story to the public using their mission profile pages, social media, and other resources. Voting will progress through candidate elimination across three phases. The public will vote only for candidates from their nation or region, except for the sixth global seat.
“By giving communities the power to choose their astronauts, we ensure this mission is driven by people, for people. This approach will ignite national conversations on space and foster international collaboration in space exploration. The minimal physical requirements and training for New Shepard’s flight lowers the barrier to entry by allowing more diverse and inclusive participation in space,” Hutchison said.
Phil Joyce, SVP, New Shepard, said the programme exemplifies their commitment to making space accessible to everyone. The final six crew will arrive three days prior to the flight for training at Blue Origin’s launch site in West Texas.

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