After signing a MoU with France over Gaganyaan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi government’s next ambitious space project, the centre is now poised to strike a similar deal with Russia

by Prarthana Mitra

Russian president Vladimir Putin, over his diplomatic visit to New Delhi next month, will reportedly finalise the deal to share space expertise and knowledge with Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), tasked with coordinating India’s first human mission in space in forty years.

According to sources, these developments took place and were taken up during External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s recent visit to Moscow.

What Is Gaganyaan?

Gaganyaan aims to break the record set by Rakesh Sharma, the only Indian to have visited outer space in 1984, aboard a spacecraft of the erstwhile Soviet Union. Under Gaganyaan, ISRO hopes to send three Indians to space by 2022.

Announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Independence Day, Gaganyaan first enlisted French help and knowledge, with a memorandum of understanding between both nations signed earlier this month.

A History In Space

Russia is one of the three nations extensively involved in infrastructure sharing programmes with ISRO, besides France and the UK.

Although instances of India and Russia’s collaborations on space projects dates at least four decades back, a MoU signed in 2015 suggests ISRO and its Russian counterpart ROSCOSMOS would continue to work closely on satellite navigation, launch vehicle development, critical technologies for human spaceflight programme. That year, both nations marked the 40th anniversary of the launch of India’s first satellite ‘Aryabhatta’ atop a Russian (then USSR) launch vehicle ‘Soyuz’.

Both countries also signed a framework agreement in 2007, to cooperate in the peaceful uses of outer space, including satellite launches, Glonass navigation system, remote sensing and other societal applications of outer space. Alongside Gaganyaan, Russian diplomats have reportedly also expressed interest in establishing ground stations for Russian GPS Glonass and India’s homegrown GPS NaVIC, in each other’s soil.