India has become a partner nation in the Space Exploration and Research Agencies (SERA) human spaceflight program, collaborating with Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin. The program targets countries with few or no astronauts. Selected astronauts will train in West Texas for three days before embarking on an 11-minute journey beyond the Kármán line in Blue Origin’s reusable rocket, New Shepard.

Participants must pay $2.50 for verification checks and meet minimal physical requirements. Final candidates are chosen by public vote, with campaigns supported by mission profile pages and social media. Voters can only select candidates from their region, except for a global seat open to all countries.

Joshua Skurla, SERA co-founder, praised India’s recent space achievements, including Chandrayaan-3’s moon landing. The program aims to democratize space by offering opportunities to citizens from underrepresented nations. India, Nigeria, and the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are the first nations selected.

India’s space sector has seen advancements such as the Aditya-L1 solar mission and collaboration with SpaceX for satellite launches. ISRO’s Gaganyaan project plans to send a crew of three into orbit for a three-day mission. Selected astronauts include Prashanth Balakrishnan Nair, Angad Prathap, Ajit Krishnan, and Shubanshu Shukla.

SERA’s partnership with Blue Origin, established in April, includes six seats on the New Shepard rocket. Five seats are for nations with few astronauts, with one open to any partner nation. This initiative aims to make spaceflight more inclusive and accessible, breaking barriers for emerging spacefaring nations.

Phil Joyce, SVP of New Shepard, and SERA co-founder Sam Hutchison emphasized the program’s role in inspiring new spacefaring nations and fostering international collaboration.

Source: Fortune India