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India’s four astronaut trainees return after extensive training in Russia

An Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chandrayaan 2 Module on GSLV MK III rocket. (ISRO photo/Released)
April 15, 2021

India’s prime space agency, ISRO (Indian Space and Research Organisation) is in advanced stages of preparations to send its own team of astronauts in space on a homebuilt space module over the GSLV Mk3 expendable rocket.

On April 11, ISRO’s four-team of selected astronauts returned to India after completion of a major phase in generic space flight training in Russia as part of the Gaganyaan Programme. Minister of State over the Department of Space Dr. Jitendra Singh said that astronaut training activities had been completed in Russia and included major modules such as survival training (snow, water, and steppe), parabolic flights, theoretical classes on orbital mechanics, astronavigation, and mission control basics over Soyuz systems.

Mission-specific training will soon begin in various cities in India. ISRO’s experts have defined the training curriculum. Plans were finalized for astronaut training buildings, including requisite facilities for the Gaganyaan mission, and some work orders have been released.

ISRO’s Chairman K Sivan, said: “They are in Bengaluru and will soon start on the mission-specific training that will happen in different parts of the country. For instance, the Gaganyaan module-specific training different conditions and reactions they need will all happen in Bengaluru, while buoyancy and water survival tests and training will happen at NIOT (National Institute of Ocean Technology) in Chennai. We’ve roped in IAF, army, and navy too.”

Sivan also announced that the first unmanned mission is planned for December 2021. The second unmanned flight is planned for 2022-23, followed by a human spaceflight demonstration.

The Gaganyaan mission was first announced publicly by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who promised a successful human space flight mission by the end of 2023. The Gaganyaan mission will send the first two Indian astronauts in low Earth orbit for a seven-day orbital mission after two successful unmanned flights of the Gaganyaan Orbital Module. The GSLV Mk3 expendable rocket was selected for the Gaganyaan Programme.

With the success of this mission, India will be the fourth nation in the world to demonstrate human spaceflight on its own behind the US, Russia, and China.