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Kerala Kaumudi Online
Saturday, 20 April 2024 7.56 AM IST

From Palakkad to the stars: Journey of Prashant Balakrishnan Nair leading India's Gaganyaan mission

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PALAKKAD: Palakkad Nenmara Tiruvazhiyad village is proud and happy that Prashant Balakrishnan Nair, a Malayali, is leading the Gaganyaan group. Prashant is a Sukhoi fighter pilot and a Group Captain in the Air Force.

Prashant is the second of four children of Balakrishna and Pramila of Pratibha Niwas in Anandakrishna Iyer Nagar, Nenmara Agraharam. Prashant's childhood was spent in Kuwait as his father was an engineer there. After returning home, he completed his schooling at Chinmaya, Pallavur. He joined the National Defense Academy during his B.Tech studies at Palakkad Inner NSS Engineering College. He joined the Air Force in June 1999, graduating with first rank from the US Air Command and Staff College. Prashant received the 'Sword of Honor' from the Air Force Academy Hyderabad in 1998. His siblings are Pratibha, Pradeep, and Praveen.

Although he passed the medical and engineering entrance exams with high marks, Prashant followed in the footsteps of his brothers and opted for B.Tech. Neighbor Radha Unnikrishnan said that Prashant, who was very close to his neighbors was also active in the organization of Nenmara Vela. He comes home three times a year and stays in the village for at least ten days. His daily routine includes morning meditation, yoga, followed by an hour walk.

Although there is no particular diet, Prashant loves his mother's homemade food. His weight was 75 kg when selected for the Gaganyaan mission, but exercise reduced it to 50 kg. All four astronauts were selected for space travel in 2020 and underwent basic training at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Center in Russia. Currently, Prashant is continuing his training in Bengaluru, and they also receive training at Air Force centers in different parts of the country.

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