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India’s Gaganyaan astronaut training in Russia on schedule despite coronavirus

An Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chandrayaan 2 Module on GSLV MK III rocket during lift off, July, 2019. (ISRO photo/Released)
August 22, 2020

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, India is continuing its preparations for a manned space mission, known as the Gaganyaan Mission or “Sky Craft” mission, and Indian astronauts are continuing their training in Russia, uninterrupted.

Economic Times reported India’s astronauts in Russia are still able to keep up with their training schedule despite the pandemic and are on track to complete their training by March 2021.

The Gaganyaan Mission was formally announced by PM Narendra Modi on Aug. 15, 2018. Modi said that it will be the dream mission to launch first man or woman to space from Indian soil with the ambition to join the elite league of nations with an independent capability to carry human space flights from the homeland. India’s struggle for human space mission development date backs in 2006 when Preliminary studies and technological development of Gaganyaan started under the generic name of “Orbital Vehicle”.

The Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO) Human Space Flight Centre and Glavkosmos, which is a subsidiary of the Russian state corporation RosCosmos, signed an agreement on July 1, 2019, to provide support, medical examination, and space training to four Indian astronauts. The training in Russia includes extensive training and examination to get ready for the Gaganyaan mission, which is scheduled to take place near the end of 2022.

The four Indian officers are training at the RosCosmos training facility in Moscow, Russia. The training facility is relatively close to India’s Embassy, giving India the ability to closely monitor the day-to-day developments with India’s astronaut training and India’s envoy to Russia recently met the four Indian astronauts.

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Since 2006, ISRO, India’s premier space agency, has completed several major steps in preparing for a manned space mission. India has successfully designed and tested several building blocks for such a mission, including a reentry space capsule, a crew ejection mechanism in case of a launch failure, flight suits developed by India’s Defence Bioengineering and Electromedical Laboratory (DEBEL), and a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle GSLV-MKIII launch vehicle, modified for such a manned mission. The ISRO has also performed a launch pad abort test for the mission.

Having met the necessary technological keystones, the Indian Human Spaceflight Programme conceptualized the Gaganyaan Mission. The mission was announced on June 11, 2020, and cleared by the Indian government.

The Indo-Russian bilateral summit expected to be held in October could see the signing of a pact for new areas of cooperation in the space sector.