SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Thursday congratulated Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on successfully conducting the third long-duration “hot test” of Vikas engine, as part of the engine qualification requirements for the Gaganyaan Programme.

ISRO on Wednesday successfully conducted the third long-duration hot test of the liquid propellant Vikas Engine for the core L110 liquid stage of the human-rated GSLV MkIII vehicle.

Replying to a tweet by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on the engine test, Mr Musk just wrote one word – “Congratulations!” with India’s flag emoticon. 

ISRO said the engine was fired for 240 seconds at the space agency’s Propulsion Complex in Mahendragiri, Tamil Nadu. The test objectives were met and the parameters closely matched the predictions, it added.

The objective of the Gaganyaan programme is to demonstrate the capability to send humans to low earth orbit onboard an Indian launch vehicle and bring them back to earth.

Four Indian astronaut-candidates have already undergone generic space flight training in Russia as part of the Gaganyaan programme. ISRO’s heavy-lift launcher GSLV Mk III has been identified for the mission.

The first unmanned mission is planned for December 2021 and the second one is scheduled in 2022-23.

The much-anticipated space programme of ISRO was formally announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 15, 2018. The initial target was to launch human spaceflight before the 75th anniversary of India’s independence on August 15, 2022. ISRO’s heavy-lift launcher GSLV Mk III has been identified for the mission.

On Sunday, Richard Branson became the first billionaire to travel to the edge of space onboard his Virgin Galactic’s first fully crewed test flight, leaving Jeff Bezos (Blue Origin) and Elon Musk (SpaceX) behind. Reports said Elon Musk had bought a ticket for Galactic in 2006 when the advertised price of a ticket was $250,000.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX, according to reports, is planning to partner with local companies to manufacture satellite communications equipment in India. Space X is also planning to launch its high-speed Starlink satellite broadband services in India this year.

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