Bengaluru: Covid-19 has forced the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to ‘quarantine’ its dream flight to space scheduled for this year. The first unmanned flight has now been postponed to 2021.

ISRO was scheduled to send two unmanned flights, the second one with ‘Vyommitra’ on board -- the womanoid capable of monitoring crew module parameters, alerting ISRO and performing life support operations. Now, Vyommitra will undergo further tweaking to enable it to simulate human functions and interact with the environmental control and life support system.

Even the missions next year are not a done deal. Whether we will launch two unmanned missions next year will depend on the emerging situations; we will have to decide based on what happens in the coming months. If Covid effects continue to hold sway, we may have to revisit some of our plans further, ISRO chairman K Sivan was quoted in the media.

The unmanned space flights were a precursor or a test run for the ambitious project called Gaganyaan which would ‘rocket’ an Indian to space. With the unmanned space mission getting 'Covided', the plans to send humans to space will also get pushed from 2021 to 2022. With the present conditions, the unmanned flight may not be possible this year. We are planning about five to six missions, including the GiSAT-1 whose launch was postponed earlier this year. The details of these missions will be made public later, Sivan was quoted as saying in ToI. However, ISRO will use this vacant window period to focus on satellite launches.

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