Flight surgeons to train in space medicine in Russia to assist Gaganyaan astronauts: ISRO officials

The training program for astronauts, affected by the lockdown in Russia, is expected to end by March 2021.


Two flight surgeons will soon fly to Russia where they will get hands-on experience in space medicine from their Russian counterparts for the Gaganyaan mission, an Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) official said on Sunday. The flight surgeons are doctors from the Indian Air Force who have specialized in aerospace medicine. "The flight surgeons will leave soon. They will get hands-on training with flight surgeons in Russia," the official said. Training of astronauts is a critical aspect of the human space mission project. Flight surgeons are responsible for astronauts' health before, during and after a flight.

The flight surgeons will also get to train with the prospective astronauts, the official said. The four test pilots of the Indian Air Force, chosen for India's first manned mission to space, have been undergoing training at the Yu A Gagarin Research and Test Cosmonaut Training Centre near Moscow since February last year.

Potential spacesuits for ISRO's Gaganyaan mission. Image credit:GLAVKOSMOS/Twitter

Potential spacesuits for ISRO's Gaganyaan mission. Image credit:GLAVKOSMOS/Twitter

Named after Yuri Gagarin, the first human to journey into outer space, the Center was built to support manned space programmes, space exploration activities, space engineering, cosmonauts' training, as well as ensuring their safety in space and providing post-flight rehabilitation programmes for cosmonauts.

The training of Indian astronauts has been affected due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown in Russia, and they are expected to be back in India by March.

The flight surgeons will also travel to France for training.

“The French module of space surgeons training will be more theoretical in nature," the official added.

In 2018, flight surgeon Brigitte Godard, who was with French space agency CNES then, had visited India to start the training of physicians and engineers.

France has a well-established mechanism for space medicine. It also has the MEDES space clinic, a subsidiary of CNES, where space surgeons undergo training.

Gaganyaan, an ambitious mission to send three Indians to space by 2022, could be slightly delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has hit ISRO's supplies from the industry, the official said.


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