G Madhavan Nair, former chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), said that had the original plan for the human spaceflight programme worked out, India could have put an astronaut in space in 2015, reports The Hindu.
Madhavan Nair, who was the chief of ISRO from 2003 to 2009, attributed the delay in the programme to political factors and the change in priorities of the subsequent management of the space agency.
Responding to ISRO’s formal announcement that it plans to put three Indians in space in December 2021, The Hindu quoted Nair as saying, "ISRO now has a strong chairman in K. Sivan. The human spaceflight mission will be a turning point in the Indian space programme,”
The human spaceflight programme was a natural choice as a target for the future, Nair said. “Human access to space had become very important for various reasons. One, ISRO has improved regarding launch vehicle technology. To land humans on Mars and Moon, we have to make a beginning,” he added.
ISRO, in 2008, had prepared a project report and submitted it to Space Commission. A team was formed at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) to inquire about different aspects of spaceflight and the technologies required for the mission.
The team, which consisted of 10-12 people, was led by S. Unnikrishnan Nair, the then project Director of the Human Spaceflight Programme.