Russia proposes India to train its astronauts

Russia proposes India to train its astronauts
Photo: NASA

Russia may take part in the selection and training of Indian astronauts, as Indian authorities are seeking to cooperate with friendly space powers that have established human spaceflight programmes. Roscosmos is already providing astronaut training for the UAE and has offered its assistance to Bahrain and Malaysia.

Roscosmos national space agency has formally offered its assistance to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in the selection and training of astronauts for the Indian Human Spaceflight Programme, reports SpaceWatch.Global. According to an unnamed Roscosmos source, the Russian party has proposed its assistance in conducting various stages of selection of candidates for the flight, a training course for the candidates in Russia and assistance in the subsequent training in India. The proposal was made during a meeting between Roscosmos and ISRO officials in Moscow on 14 September.

India intends to send three astronauts into Earth orbit by 2022 in an Indian-made spacecraft launched by an Indian launch vehicle. The space programme was announced by the country's Prime Minister Narendra Modi in August 2018. Although India is considered to possess the required expertise, skills and technologies to perform such a mission, it lacks the ability to select, train and support its astronauts. Thus, senior Indian officials have said that they will be seeking to cooperate with friendly nations that have already established human spaceflight programmes. Besides support in astronaut selection and training, India is interested in assistance in biosciences and space medicine.

Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Maksim Surayev on the flight deck of Endeavour space shuttle. Photo: NASA

The list of India's friendly space powers includes the European Space Agency, Japan, the United States and Russia, as they have an extensive experience in selecting, training and supporting astronauts and cosmonauts as well as successful missions to the International Space Station. The ISRO has already agreed with the French National Space Agency that the latter will provide extensive space medicine support to the Indian programme. As for Roscosmos's offer to the ISRO, it was almost inevitable given the strong and protracted strategic partnership between the two countries and Russia's deep expertise in cosmonaut selection and training. However, India is likely to turn to American, European or Japanese training at a later stage.

Roscosmos has recently increased its activity in developing a moneymaking strategy of offering other countries services required to kick-start human spaceflight programmes. The agency, which is already providing astronaut training for the UAE's space programme, has offered the same service to Bahrain and Malaysia.

By Anna Litvina