Prasanth Balakrishnan Nair Wiki, Age, Wife, Family, Biography & More

Prasanth Balakrishnan Nair


Prasanth Balakrishnan Nair is an officer in the Indian Air Force (IAF), a vyomanaut (a term for astronauts derived from Sanskrit), and a fighter pilot. In February 2024, he hit the headlines when the Government of India officially announced his name as the commander of a four-man team of astronauts for the Indian Human Spaceflight Programme, Gaganyaan. This crew included Group Captain Angad Pratap, Group Captain Ajit Krishnan, and Wing Commander Shubhanshu Shukla.


Prasanth Balakrishnan Nair was born on Thursday, 26 August 1976 (age 47 years; as of 2023) in Thiruvazhiyad village, Palakkad district, Kerala, India. However, some sources claim his birthplace to be Nemmara, Palakkad district, Kerala, India. His zodiac sign is Virgo. He completed his schooling till class 8th in Kuwait, where his father used to work. The family, however, relocated to India after Iraq invaded Kuwait. He completed his class 12th at the Chinmaya Vidyalaya in Palakkad in 1994. He was a school topper in class 12th and scored 455 marks out of 500.

A photo of the honour board at the Chinmaya Vidyalaya

A photo of Balakrishnan Nair taken when he was in school

In 1994, he enrolled at the NSS College of Engineering in Palakkad, where he began pursuing a bachelor’s degree in technology in instrumental and control engineering. He simultaneously began preparing for the National Defence Academy’s entrance exam. After clearing exams for the NDA, he left his engineering studies and joined the academy. After training at NDA in Khadakwasla, Pune, for three years, he reported at the Air Force Academy (AFA) in Hyderabad, where he underwent fighter pilot training.

A photo of Nair taken when he was in the National Defence Academy (NDA)

After completing his formal training, he joined the IAF as a Flying Officer. As an IAF officer, he has attended many renowned military colleges, such as the Defence Services Staff College (DSSC) in Wellington and the Air Command and Staff College (ACSC) in Montgomery, Alabama, the United States of America. He graduated from the ACSC with a first-class honours degree. After his selection as an astronaut, he enrolled at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru, where he pursued a master’s degree in engineering.

Physical Appearance

Height (approx.): 5′ 9″

Weight: 50 kg

Hair Colour: Bald

Eye Colour: Dark Brown


Parents & Siblings

His father, Valampil Balakrishnan Nair, is an engineer and a retired government official. His mother, Koolanghaat Prameela Nair, is a homemaker. He has two brothers and a sister. His brothers, Pradeep Nair and Praveen Nair, are engineers and are settled outside India. His sister, Pratibha, lives in Thrissur, Kerala.

P. Balakrishnan Nair’s photo with his family

Wife & Children

His wife, Lena Kumar (also spelt as Lenaa), is a renowned Malayalam film industry actress and an author. The couple got married to each other on 17 January 2024. The couple has no kids.

P. Balakrishnan Nair with Lena posing for a photo

Lena revealed her marriage with Nair to the public through an Instagram post on 27 February 2024, after PM Narendra Modi’s announcement. According to her, it was an arranged marriage. Lena also claimed that she maintained secrecy about her marriage to Prasanth to avoid any potential interference with his work as an astronaut.

An Instagram post uploaded by Lena about her marriage


He follows Hinduism.


Indian Air Force

According to some sources, Prasanth Nair was commissioned into the IAF on 19 December 1998, while some other sources claim that he was commissioned on 19 June 1999. As of 2024, Prasanth, as a group captain, has more than 3000 hours of flying experience in different aircrafts, such as Sukhoi Su-30MKI, MiG-21, MiG-29, BAE Systems Hawk, Dornier 228, and Antonov An-32. He has also served as the Directing Staff at the DSSC in Wellington as well as an instructor at the Flying Instructors School (FIS) in Tambaram, Chennai. He has also commanded a squadron of the Sukhoi fleet of the IAF. He is a Category A pilot and a test pilot and has flown many aircraft for the Air Force to induct. In 2016, he was the pilot of the Sukhoi aircraft that test-fired the first air-launched variant of the Brahmos missile following which India became one of the few countries to have the capability to fire nuclear warheads from air, sea, and land.


In 2018, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) along with the Air Force selected more than 30 veteran pilots from the service to be part of the Gaganyaan mission. The mission aims to position astronauts 400 kilometres above sea level for 3 days and then safely land them back on Earth in 2025.

A photo of the Gaganyaan model along with the scientists that worked on it

By the middle of 2019, only 12 out of these 30 pilots were retained as the remaining were rejected. Later, four candidates, Group Captain Nair, Group Captain Pratap, Group Captain Krishnan, and Wing Commander Shukla were shortlisted. Out of these four, Balakrishnan was appointed mission commander. Following the completion of the initial space training in India at the Institute of Aerospace Medicine (IAM) in Bengaluru, the candidates reported for advanced space training in Russia at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center. There, they were trained for 18 months to work on the technical and other essential aspects of working in space.

After the candidates returned to India from Russia, they were further evaluated and trained at the Human Space Flight Centre in Bengaluru. In February 2024, the selected four officers of the IAF completed their space training module, and on 27 February 2024, Prime Minister Narendra Modi pinned astronaut wings on the uniforms of astronauts.

A photo of Balakrishnan with PM Modi while he was pinning the astronaut wings on his chest


Prasanth Balakrishnan Nair was the recipient of the Sword Of Honour during his passing out parade at the Air Force Academy (AFA) in Hyderabad.


  • His name is also spelt as Prashant B. Nair.
  • Prasanth is a good basketball player. According to his school teachers, he learnt how to play the game in Kuwait. He introduced the sport at the Chinmaya Vidyalaya and made a team. He also represented his squadron in several basketball tournaments in NDA.
  • After schooling, Prasanth managed to get good marks in the Engineering and Medical entrance exams. He, however, decided to opt for engineering after getting motivated by his siblings.
  • To maintain his physical fitness, Balakrishnan used to do yoga, work out in a gym, and go for a swim while training to become an astronaut.

    Balakrishnan Nair performing yoga

  • He passionately follows his hobby of reading.
  • Prasanth’s team will become the first team of astronauts to be launched into space from Indian soil in 2025.
  • Balakrishnan Nair underwent training in Russia at the same facility, where Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma, the first Indian to go to space, was trained in 1984.

    A photo of Nair along with other chosen Indian astronauts taken while they were undergoing training in Russia

  • He likes to eat home-cooked meals made by his mother.
  • According to sources, before joining the astronaut training module, Balakrishnan weighed 75 kg. However, he lost 25 kgs due to the intense training.
  • Group Captain Prasanth Balakrishnan Nair likes to do meditation.