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Review: Gaganyaan – Bharat Ki Antariksh Udaan (Discovery+)

Reading time: 2 minutes

Gaganyan, a 47-minute documentary streaming on Discovery+, showcases India’s ambitious odyssey of sending Indian astronauts into space in an Indian spacecraft by 2023.

The film starts with narrator Rahul Mulani telling us who was the first person to go into space in 1961 and since then more than 500 astronauts from 41 countries have gone into space and today, only the United States, Russia and China can launch crewed spacecraft.

He further tells us that India is now on the verge of joining this very exclusive club, thus ushering in a new era of history, making India a major space superpower.

The documentary dissects the extremely complex and dangerous mission through the perspectives of three astronauts – Rakesh Sharma, the first Indian in space, Sunita Williams, a NASA astronaut, and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kotov.

IN ONE LOOK

  • Director: Pria Somiah
  • Cast: Rakesh Sharma, Air Cmdr (Rtd) Ravish Malhotra, Chethan Kumar, Dr K. Radhakrishnan, Dr S. Somanath, Dimitry Loskutor, Sunita Williams, Raj Chengappa, Dr Bridgette Godard
  • Evaluation: ***

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With a vast array of talking heads, the story elaborates on the qualities required to be an astronaut, the number of astronauts who will ultimately be selected for the mission, and Vyommitra, the female-looking humanoid space robot developed by ISRO that would accompany human astronauts into space.

He also tells us about the importance of a spacesuit, the manufacture of the indigenous launcher, and the technologies that the makers must master in case he needs to succeed in Gaganyaan’s dangerous or complex mission.

Told in a non-linear way, Ganganyaan traces the daring and challenging decade-and-a-half journey of India’s human flight program, from the development of its state-of-the-art cryogenic engine, flight testing and rigorous astronaut training to final preparations and anticipation before its launch.

The narrative is supported by archival footage, modern graphic depictions of complex processes and bytes from prominent personalities in the space fields, including Dr. K Radhakrishnan – former ISRO President, Dr. S. Somanath – former Director of VSSO and current Chairman of ISRO, Retired Air Commodore Ravish Malhotra who was former Indian Air Force test pilot, Dimitry Loskutor, Managing Director of Glavkosmos, and Dr. Bridgette Godard , flight surgeon at the European Astronaut Center.

The emotional power of the film comes not from the visuals that document the subject but from the words spoken by Raj Chengappa, the group’s editorial director of a publishing house, and Chethan Kumar, deputy editor – Space, science and defense of another post. Bright with grandiose declarations and uplifting sentiments, they speak with such conviction and authority that you feel proud and driven by patriotic fervor.

Globally, Gaganyaan: Bharat Ki Antariksh Udaan achieves its goal of edutainment.

IANS

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