Gaganyaan: 4 astronauts begin Russia training

Gaganyaan: 4 astronauts begin Russia training

A file photo of an IAF pilot undergoing medical checkup as part of the astronaut selection process.

The four astronauts shortlisted for India’s first manned space mission, Gaganyaan, have commenced their full-fledged training at Russia’s Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Star City. The four, all Indian Air Force (IAF) pilots, arrived in Russia on Friday.

Lasting one year, the training will combine comprehensive and bio-medical preparations with regular physical exercises. The candidates shortlisted by the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) will also get exposed to the manned Soyuz spacecraft’s systems, informed a statement by the Training Centre.

As part of the training, the astronauts are also expected to rehearse operations during an emergency landing of a descent capsule in various climatic and geographic conditions. They will have to undertake flights aboard an Il-76MDK plane designed to simulate short-term zero gravity modes and other emergencies.

The Training Centre will be the venue for most of the training activities. The Centre head Pavel Vlasov is on record articulating his confidence in the Indian astronauts’ ability to cope with the spacecraft studies since they already have immense experience in aircraft operations.

Isro Chairman K Sivan had announced on January 1 that the four IAF pilots selected for the mission would be trained in Russia. Twelve pilots were initially selected for the project after clearing the level-1 screening in September

The four were selected from an initial pool of 60 applicants by the Institute of Aerospace Medicine (IAM) attached to the IAF. The Gaganyaan mission has been scheduled to be launched in December 2021 or early 2022 ahead of the 75th Independence Day deadline fixed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In July 2019, Russia’s State Space Corporation Roscosmos had announced that its Glavokosmos division and Isro’s Gaganyaan Human Space Flight Centre inked a deal for the selection, medical testing and eventual training of the shortlisted astronauts.

Before the manned mission, Isro will undertake two unmanned missions, both carrying a humanoid. A prototype of this humanoid, Vyommitra was recently showcased at an international symposium on human space flights. The manned mission will see the astronauts spend seven days in the crew capsule in a low-earth orbit.

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