(This was originally posted in Times Of India by Chethan Kumar)
The four astronaut-elects shortlisted to be part of India’s first human spaceflight mission — Gaganyaan — are set to complete their training in aerospace medicine at the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) Institute of Aerospace Medicine (IAM) soon. Once this training, which will be a basic module, is complete, the astronauts will return to Russia for a brief period. “Right now they are at IAM. They are being given basic training on aerospace medicine which will be completed by the end of this week,” K Sivan, chairman, Isro, told TOI.
The four men, as reported first by TOI, were at IAF’s Bidar facility in the first week of September to train on fighter planes. This “continuity training” was advised by experts given that the astronaut-elects had been “out of loop for more than a year”.After they complete the IAM module, they will return to Russia for about three weeks. Among activities planned there crew seat molding, which needs to be done as per their body structure. There will also be flight suit trials, including depressurization checks, etc,” Sivan added.
As reported by TOI earlier, Isro will be receiving the seats to be used on the crew module from Russia and the space agency has placed orders for four seats, while Russian research, development & production enterprise — Zvezda — will be supplying the space suit. The four astronaut-elects had, in September 2020, visited Zvezda where their anthropometric parameters were measured for production of spacesuits. “Once they return from Russia, they will begin their second leg of India training beginning with some theory courses,” Sivan said. Crew Module Viewport Further, the proposed crew module for Gaganyaan would have a viewport enabling astronauts to view outside and even photograph what they see.
Given Isro’s lack of expertise in this field, the space agency is looking to import the viewport — basically a three-layered glass structure — and integrate the same with the crew module. Sources in Isro said that the first set of viewport mockup hardware from Russia has already arrived at Isro. “This is mainly meant for checking mechanical interface and other details with our module. It’s only an engineering model. The actual viewport will have three layers of glass. The first layer is meant to deal with thermal protection, the middle layer is for the structure and the inner layer would deal with difference in pressure, etc. That will come later,” Sivan said.