Russia may train Indian astronauts at ISS

Russia may train Indian astronauts at ISS

Modi, Putin to discuss Russia's offer to take crew of India's first manned mission to ISS for hands-on training

In this video grab provided by Roscosmos Space Agency Press Service on Monday, Sept. 11, 2018, Sergei Prokopyev, a Russian cosmonaut on the International Space Station, speaks in a video message from the orbiting outpost released by the Russian space agen

Indian astronauts may get an opportunity to fly onboard a Russian shuttle to the International Space Station (ISS) for a hands-on training session before they crew the nation's first manned mission to the low earth orbit.

Moscow of late conveyed to New Delhi that it could take the crew of the ‘Gaganyaan’ – the proposed first manned space mission of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) – to the ISS for a real “out-of-the-world” training session. The details of the proposal are likely to be discussed when Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet in New Delhi next Friday.

If New Delhi accepts Moscow’s offer, it could relive a high point in India-Russia cooperation – Indian astronaut Rakesh Sharma’s historic April 1984 flight on board the Soviet shuttle Soyuz T 11 to Salyut 7 space station.

Putin is arriving in New Delhi on Thursday. He and Modi will hold the 19th annual India-Russia summit on Friday. He will also call on President Ram Nath Kovind before leaving New Delhi at the end of his two-day visit to India.

A review of bilateral cooperation in space exploration and research, as well as the application of space technology, is likely to be high on the agenda of the summit between Prime Minister and Russian President.

The two sides are likely to explore ways to expand cooperation in the field of the human space programme, particularly on life support system crew module and training of astronauts sources aware of the agenda of the summit told the DH.

With the ISRO planning to launch the Gaganyaan by December 2021, the Roscosmos – the space agency of the government of Russian Federation offered to help train the crew of the first manned space mission of India. Moscow conveyed to New Delhi that the Roscosmos could arrange training for the ISRO astronauts, not only at its facilities in Russia, but also at the Russian Orbital Segment of the ISS, sources said in New Delhi.

The ISS is a habitable artificial satellite in low earth orbit. It has been operational since 1998 as a joint project by the Roscosmos of Russia, National Aeronautics and Space Administration of the US, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Canadian Space Agency and European Space Agency. It serves as a microgravity and space environment research laboratory.

The Roscosmos’ offer to help train the ISRO astronauts in Russia as well as at the ISS was discussed when External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj, and Russian Deputy Prime Minister, Yuri Borisov, met in Moscow on September 14 and co-chaired the meeting of the India-Russia Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technical and Cultural Cooperation.

It was also discussed when Dmitry Rogozin, the Director General of the Roscosmos, visited New Delhi on September 25. Rogozin met Modi’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval to discuss the issues related to bilateral space cooperation ahead of the summit between Prime Minister and Russian President.

New Delhi sought more details from Moscow about the proposal to train the ISRO astronauts at the ISS. “A decision could be taken only when we would know the expenses required for sending our astronauts to the ISS and whether we could afford it,” said a source who asked not to be identified. “Russia is an old friend of India and we hope we can work it out with them.”

Modi-Putin summit in New Delhi on October 5 is also likely to give both sides an opportunity to review and discuss the expansion of cooperation in advanced technologies in remote sensing of earth, ground stations for satellite navigation system and space solar power systems.


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