NEW DELHI: India is to send a robot into space this year, Jitendra Singh, the Minister of State for Space, Atomic Energy, Science and Technology, told reporters today.

This crewless robot flight will be followed in 2025 by India’s first human space flight carrying Indian astronauts.

The female robot astronaut to fly into space this year has been christened “Vyommitra". The name is derived from two Sanskrit language words. “Vyoma” means “space” and “Mitra” means “friend”.

Singh said the female robot astronaut will be equipped with capabilities to monitor space module parameters, issue alerts and execute life support operations. It can simulate human functions and respond to human queries, he said.

India’s first human space flight will be called “Gaganyaan", which means “celestial vehicle" in Sanskrit. The flight envisages sending three Indian astronauts to space to orbit the earth from a 400-km altitude on a mission of up to seven days.