I’m a student of class 9 and I do well with Physics, Maths and Chemistry academically as well as being physically fit and playing sports. I want to become a Vyomnaut but also serve in the air force. I am thinking of taking PCM and pursuing Aeronautics after the 12th, then enter the Indian Air Force via AFCAT, apply at ISRO and see where that will lead me. What should I do?
If you want to become a Vyomnaut (astronaut), the Indian Air Force is the right choice. However, be aware that you may never become an astronaut, even if you join the air force and meet all the requirements. The reason being that India doesn’t have any active astronaut programme, and not even any deployment of astronauts on missions on a regular basis.
When any manned mission is planned, ISRO reaches out to the air force who select a handful of their best pilots and train them for the mission. Of these, one or two will get a chance to go to space.
For the country’s maiden manned space mission, Gaganyaan, the Indian Air Force (IAF) shortlisted 200 IAF fighter pilots. They were apparently given a questionnaire to solve by ISRO, after which they were subjected to physical examinations like cardiac, neural, dental, opthalmologic, psychologic and ENT. Out of 200 pilots only four were selected for the mission. They are further being trained by ISRO in rescue and recovery operations, surviving in zero gravity situations, centrifuge training, study of radiation environment and for long journey in space through water simulation.
AFCAT (Air Force Common Admission Test) is conducted by the Indian Air Force. The exam is held twice a year to recruit candidates as Class-I Gazetted Officers in Flying and Ground Duties (Technical and Non-Technical). For the Flying branch, eligibility is B.Sc/B.Tech.
Dr Vibha Gupta, a feature writer, is a Ph.D. in Mathematics from IIT Roorkee. Her book Careers: A Pathfinder and articles in various publications are an attempt to guide students in choosing a career according to their natural strengths, talents and skills.