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Hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the names of four Indian Air Force pilots who will be part of India’s first human space flight program, Gaganyaan, the National Defence Academy (NDA) said that it would be yet another milestone crossed by the cadets of the NDA in conquering uncharted territory after Rakesh Sharma, the first Indian to reach space.

“This unique achievement in pursuit of our country’s maiden manned mission is yet another milestone crossed by the cadets of the National Defence Academy in conquering uncharted territory and bringing laurels to our nation, as was done by another distinguished NDA alumni, Squadron leader (later Wing commander) Rakesh Sharma, the first Indian in space way back in 1984,” the NDA said in a statement.

The NDA said that the accomplishments of the four stalwarts would motivate those present at the academy.

“The pathbreaking accomplishment by these four stalwarts is a true testament of the excellent leadership skills and service training being imparted at NDA and it motivates us at the National Defence Academy, the Cradle of Leadership of the Indian Armed Forces, to remain steadfast to the cause of our great nation and making it ‘Saare Jahaan se Accha’ in every sense!” the Academy added.

The NDA said that it is a matter of “immense pride” that the four astronauts selected to be part of the historic Gaganyaan Mission have all passed out from “its hallowed portals”.

The four chosen Indian Air Force pilots are Group Captain Prashanth Nair, Group Captain Ajit Krishnan, Group Captain Angad Pratap, and Wing Commander Shubhanshu Shukla.

The four astronauts were trained at Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Russia.Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is on a visit to Kerala, reviewed the progress of Gaganyaan mission and bestowed ‘astronaut wings’ to the astronaut-designates at Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre.

The Gaganyaan mission is India’s first human space flight program for which extensive preparations are underway at various ISRO centres.”India’s success in the space sector is sowing the seeds of scientific temperament in the country’s young generation,” PM Modi said in his address at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre.