Gaganyaan: Indian test pilots begin astronaut, spaceflight training in Russia's Star City

The training involves aircraft development, biomedical training, physical exercises, and protocol for an emergency landing.


As of 10 February 2020, a group of four Indian test pilots has begun a year-long training program under the guidance of Russian's Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, in Star City, Moscow. The training is being undertaken as part of an international cooperation and agreement between the Russian and Indian space agencies.

The four astronaut candidates are being prepared for the Indian Space Research Organization's (ISRO's) upcoming Gaganyaan mission in 2021. All the chosen candidates have served as fighter pilots in the Indian Air Force, and were chosen after rigorous testing for India's pioneering human spaceflight mission by the Indian National Space Agency, Russian CPC authorities said in a statement.

 Gaganyaan: Indian test pilots begin astronaut, spaceflight training in Russias Star City

Representational image: Test pilots from IAF testing the SARAS plane, the first Indian designed and made passenger plane 7 March 2018 in Bengaluru, India. Image: Getty

"We are pleased to cooperate with [India] in the field of space exploration," the head of the CPC of the Russian Federation, and distinguished Test Pilot Pavel Vlasov, is said to have told the candidates.

"I am sure you are familiar with the history of manned space exploration, which means you know how many foreign cosmonauts and astronauts our Center has prepared....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 [useful] as possible for you. ”

The training will involve elements of aircraft development, biomedical training, physical exercises to counter the effects of being in zero-gravity for days at a time, and actions in the event of an abnormal/emergency landing using the Soyuz TPK landing module.

Some of the training elements include contrasting climatic and geographical regions (like woody and swampy areas in Russia's freezing winter). Other will include flight simulations and short flights on the IL-76 MDK (see video above) reproducing short-term zero-gravity modes among other modes of extreme training.

Majority of the astronaut training will take in Russia, and as dictated by the Cosmonaut Training Center, the statement concluded.

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