Four Indian astronauts continue to train at Russia's Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center near Moscow as prospective space travelers for India's crewed Gaganyaan project.
The Gaganyaan program aims to launch an astronaut before the 75th anniversary of India's independence, in 2022, according to previous statements from the nation's space agency, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
According to Russia's space agency Roscosmos (opens in new tab), the four Indian astronauts "are in good health and are determined to continue their training." The trainees arrived in February and are scheduled to complete their stay at the facility in early 2021.
Preparing for spaceflight
The training program for the foursome has encompassed a broad range of skills necessary for spaceflight, according to the Roscosmos statement, including learning Russian and studying every aspect of the Soyuz vehicle. The Indian astronauts have also completed a variety of simulations mimicking different ways astronauts can return to Earth, including landing on the steppes, in wooded or marshy areas and splashing down in bodies of water.
The Indian astronaut trainees have also undergone short-term weightlessness simulations and practiced being air-lifted from a landing site in a helicopter.Still to come in the Indian astronauts' training will be centrifuge simulations of G-forces and stints in a pressure chamber, each of which will teach their bodies what to expect from spaceflight.
GCTC resumed training of the Indian cosmonauts — https://t.co/Ha4VJOx1lx🧑🚀🇮🇳 Roscosmos specialists are giving theoretical classes on the basics of astrogation, the basics of manned spacecraft control and the Russian language to the Indian cosmonauts pic.twitter.com/KAZeRJFP8MMay 22, 2020
India has been pressing forward with its human spaceflight program despite budgetary constraints, although the coronavirus pandemic has taken its toll on schedule.
To date, two Indian astronauts have flown to space, but only on the Russian Soyuz capsule and U.S. space shuttle, rather than on an Indian vehicle, which is a stipulation of the Gaganyaan program.
Russia and India signed the contract for the training the four astronauts are currently completing in June 2019. The first crewed Gaganyaan mission will carry up to three astronauts on a seven-day mission, according to ISRO.
Leonard David is author of "Moon Rush: The New Space Race" (National Geographic, 2019). A longtime writer for Space.com, David has been reporting on the space industry for more than five decades. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook. This version of the story was published on Space.com.