by Elton Gomes
India’s plans for an astronauts training facility, which were on hold due to issuance of clearance of the Human Spaceflight Programme (HSP), will now be complete on a land that is located about eight to ten kilometres from the Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) on the outskirts of Bengaluru city, according to current plans.
The facility for astronauts will help in preparing personnel for manned missions in rescue and recovery operations, study of radiation environment, and the lengthy journey across space via water simulation.
Likely to be named Astronaut Training and Biomedical Engineering Centre, the facility will be developed on the land owned by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and will be spread across 40-50 acres. The training facility is expected to match the one in Russia where astronauts from around the world undergo training.
ISRO Chairman Sivan K spoke to the Times of India about the plans for the facility: “Yes, but that will be for future missions, as it won’t be possible to train astronauts for the present mission at our facility given the tight schedule. So we will be training them at a foreign facility, and subsequently, for future missions, we will have our own here.”
The centre will be built in collaboration with the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) Institute of Aviation Medicine (IAM), which is located on Old Airport Road in Bengaluru. The training facility will equip astronauts on how to survive in zero gravity environments – a task that is most challenging as per Rakesh Sharma, the first Indian astronaut who went to space on a Soviet mission in 1984.
A senior official from the IAM told the Times of India that the institute is capable of developing the training centre without any external help and that there are sufficient resources dedicated towards the project.
ISRO prepared for challenge
Hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious statement of sending an Indian rocket into space by 2022, Sivan expressed confidence that his team would be able to meet the deadline.
“ISRO is always ready to meet challenges because of its dedicated team. We will be able to show to the world that our country is scientifically and technologically on par with all advanced nations. We are confident that we can do it ever earlier than 2022 (sending an Indian into space) because some of the technologies are ready and so is the launch vehicle, GSLV-III (to carry the crew into space). We will use GSLV-III vehicle, and carry a three-member crew to an orbit about 300-400 km from the earth. The crew will be in space for about seven days in the module weighing about seven tons,” Sivan told the media in Bengaluru, Deccan Chronicle reported.
Sivan then explained that the journey of Indian crew into space would necessitate critical tests like launching the modules twice in the absence of any crew members and simulating an escape route in case of a snag. Sivan added that ISRO has already carried out some tests, with the most recent being an emergency pad abort test (PAT). The test was conducted on July 5 from Sriharikota, wherein the crew escape system (CES) was ejected from the rocket minutes after launch.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius
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