Odisha born IAF pilot shortlisted for ISRO’s Gaganyaan
Nikhil Rath and the other 24 pilots who cleared the first round of the astronaut selection process will now be trained for ISRO’s first manned mission to space
September 11, 2019 / 04:22 PM IST
Indian Air Force Wing Commander Nikhil Rath, who hails from Odisha’s Balangir, has been shortlisted for Indian Space Research Institute’s ambitious Gaganyaan mission.
Rath was among the 25 pilots selected by the Indian Air Force after conducting the first round of tests at the Institute of Aerospace Medicine in Bengaluru, reported the Orissa Post.
The wing commander was born in an illustrious family. His father Ashok Rath is a renowned advocate of the district while his mother Kusum Rath is a member of the Mahila Commission.
Rath and the other 24 pilots who cleared the first round of the astronaut selection process will now be trained for ISRO’s first manned mission to space, which is slated to take place in 2021. They will be trained for the space mission in Russia for one year. If Rath clears the final round and makes it to the final list, he will be among the three lucky astronauts who will be in space as a part of the seven-day Gaganyaan mission.
Wing Cdr Nikhil Rath completed his schooling from Kendriya Vidyalaya in 1998 and gave his 12th board exams from Delhi Public School in 2000.
He cracked the entrance examination to join the National Defence Academy (NDA) in his first attempt while he was pursuing his bachelors at the Hindu College. After completing his cadet training at NDA, he got commissioned as an officer at the Indian Air Force in 2003.
Speaking about Rath’s feat, his father Ashok told the New Indian Express: “Going to space is definitely a risky job. But our family has been serving the nation. My father was a freedom fighter and my elder brother, who was a commandant in CRPF, was martyred in Mizoram. I too had a desire to join defence service but unfortunately, it did not happen. Now my son is serving the country.”
Notably, the Rs 10,000 crore Gaganyaan Mission was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 15, 2018.