Indian astronauts could be trained at the Star City near Moscow which has since 1960s been home to Russian cosmonauts

NEW DELHI: Russia may train Indian astronauts at a space training centre near Moscow before they fly India’s first manned mission Gaganyaan in 2022, widening in the process the four-decade-old partnership in the space sector.

Expanding the scope of Indo-Russian space cooperation, including training of Indian astronauts, will be high on the agenda when Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets President Vladimir Putin in Delhi on Friday for the annual bilateral summit, said people aware of the matter.

Indian astronauts could be trained at the Star City near Moscow which has since 1960s been home to Russian cosmonauts. Many Russian cosmonauts, past and present, train and stay with their families in this facility, which is run by Roscosmos, the Russian space agency.

The summit is expected to see signing of ten agreements or documents in civilian sectors such as hydrocarbon, transport, agriculture and nuclear energy, besides defence. Additionally, Modi and Putin are likely to address a mega business summit on Friday.

Russia may also take the crew of Gaganyaan to the International Space Station (ISS). Russia’s offer to train Indian astronauts was discussed when external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and Russia’s deputy prime minister Yuri Borisov met in Moscow on September 14. It was also discussed when Dmitry Rogozin, the director general of Roscosmos, and former deputy PM, visited Delhi on September 25 to meet national security advisor Ajit Doval.

The collaboration between the two countries was evident in April 1984, when Indian astronaut Rakesh Sharma was aboard the Soviet shuttle Soyuz-T-11 to Salyut-7 space station.

The ISS is a habitable artificial satellite in low earth orbit. It has been operational since 1998 as a joint project by Russia’s Roscosmos, National Aeronautics and Space Administration of the US, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Canadian Space Agency and European Space Agency.

In 2015, the two sides marked the 40th anniversary of the launch of India’s first satellite, Aryabhatt, on a Russian (then USSR) launch vehicle, Soyuz, and signed a memorandum to work on joint activities in areas of mutual interest, including satellite navigation, launch vehicle development and critical technologies for human spaceflight programme. Earlier, in 2007, India and Russia signed a framework agreement on cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space.

The two sides are in talks to establish ground stations for Glonass, the global positioning system of Russia, and Navic, India’s home-grown GPS, according to the people cited earlier.