The Indian Space Research Organisation will begin a series of test flights for its Gaganyaan mission from February 2023, R Umamaheshwaran, the director of the agency’s Human Space Flight Centre said on Thursday, reported PTI.

Under the Gaganyaan mission, India aims to send a space flight carrying three astronauts to a Low Earth Orbit for three days. It will be India’s first manned mission to space.

Umamaheshwaran said that the space agency is planning to deploy the Chinook helicopter and the C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft for testing the crew module, which will carry the astronauts.

“The crew module, where the astronauts are supposed to sit and fly, is completed and the fabrication work is on,” Umamaheshwaran said, according to PTI. “Within six months, we will get the crew module.”

He said that the design of the Environment Control System, which will ensure ambient living conditions for astronauts while orbiting the earth, has also been completed by scientists.

“We have to provide oxygen, remove carbon dioxide, remove humidity, maintain temperature and also ensure there is no fire hazard,” Umamaheshwaran said. “This is a very complex technology which no country would give us.”

Umamaheshwaran added that the task of designing the crew module and environment control system was challenging as one had to keep in mind the comfort of astronauts during their re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere when the temperature outside the space capsule could reach over 2,000 degrees Celsius.

He also said that the four candidates shortlisted for the mission have completed their exercises in Russia and are undergoing further training in Bengaluru.

The Gaganyaan mission was initially planned to be launched in 2022 but was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The maiden spaceflight is now expected by the end of 2024 or early 2025, according to PTI.