Four Indian pilots are currently in Russia training to become astronauts. India isplanning its first manned mission in space.
Four Indian Air Force test pilots who have been chosen to be trainee astronauts for India’s first manned mission to space, expected in a couple of years, began their basic training for space missions at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre (GCTC) in Russia on February 10, Russian space agency Glavkosmos and GCTC said in official statements.
In June 2019, the Human Space Flight Centre of the Indian Space Research Organisation and the Russian government-owned Glavkosmos signed a contract for the training, which includes Russian support in the selection of candidates, their medical examination, and space training.
Glavkosmos said, “The 12-month training programme includes comprehensive and biomedical training of the Indian candidates, combined with regular physical practices. They will study in detail the systems of the Soyuz manned spaceship, as well as be trained in short-term weightlessness mode aboard the Il-76MDK aircraft.”
The Il-76MDK is an Ilyushin-78 military transport plane specially re-designed for parabolic flights of trainee astronauts and space tourists. The candidates will also be trained to take appropriate actions during emergencies — for example should the spacecraft make an abnormal landing in (unplanned) climate and geographic zones.
“This Monday, Gagarin Research & Test Cosmonaut Training Center has started the planned training program of Indian candidates for a spaceflight under the contract between Glavkosmos, JSC (part of the State Space Corporation Roscosmos) and the Human Spaceflight Centre of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO),’’ Glavkosmos said in the statement.
In a welcome address to the Indian test pilots, GCTC head Pavel Vlasov, a decorated Russian test pilot, said he hopes the IAF pilots’ flying experience and testing of aircraft for the Air Force will help them succeed in studying space technology.
“I am sure you are familiar with the history of manned space exploration, which means you know how many foreign cosmonauts and astronauts our centre has prepared,” Vlasov told the Indian trainee astronauts on their first day. “I think with your experience in the development of aircraft you will successfully cope with the task of studying space technology. And we will do our best to make your stay in the CPC and Star City as comfortable and effective as possible for you.”