India’s Gaganyaan Mission Put On-Hold Due To Covid-19 Pandemic

Gaganyaan – India’s 1st Space Manned Mission is facing some hurdles due to coronavirus that has engulfed the world.  Indian PM during his independence day address last year had stated that an astronaut will go on a space odyssey by 2022 on project ‘Gaganyaan’.

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The training of Gaganyaan’s four astronauts in Russia has been put on hold as the facility where the exercise is being undertaken has been temporarily closed due to Covid-19 pandemic, ANI quoted some sources.

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“As part of international cooperation, four representatives of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) are beginning their training at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center on February 10, 2020, as candidates for a space flight.”

All the candidates for Mission Gangayaan have served as fighter jet pilots in the Indian Air Force. They were selected by ISRO after comprehensive tests and training. However, since last week the centre has been shut due to coronavirus outbreak, sources said.

“Our (prospective) astronauts are fine. They are currently in the hostel. We have been told the centre will open by the end of the month,” a source said.

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When asked whether the suspension of training for nearly four weeks will hurt the training programme, the sources added that although the training programme spans over 12 months, they had kept a buffer of three months to factor in exigencies.

Earlier, The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has decided to go with Russian Glavkosmos for the astronaut training programme for the proposed Gaganyaan mission.

ISRO Chairman, K Sivan had stated that the space agency would most likely pick Russia as its partner in astronaut training. This comes in lieu with their previous collaborations when Russia took Rakesh Sharma to space and their continued work with Indian Air Force’s (IAF) Institute of Aerospace Medicine (IAM).