Updated: February 12, 2020 9:50:14 am
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.
“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.”
The training program for Indian astronaut trainees at GCTC will be for a period of one year and will involve biomedical training with regular physical exercises and study of the systems on the Soyuz spacecraft, which frequently flies astronauts to the International Space Station.
The IAF pilots will also be trained in short-term weightlessness mode aboard a special Il-76MDK aircraft, as well as measures for “abnormal landing’’ of their spaceship in various terrain.
Oleg Valeriyevich Kotov, 54, a Russian cosmonaut and aerospace medicine expert with 526 days of experience in space, has helped IAF authorities pick the four Indian astronaut trainees from a field of 60 who were sent to undergo the selection process at the IAF Institute of Aerospace Medicine in Bengaluru and the GCTC last year. The pilots will return for mission specific training to India after a year at GCTC.
The ISRO is, meanwhile, developing a crew module which will seat an Indian astronaut on the maiden manned flight to space.
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