NEW DELHI: Russia will not only train Indian astronauts for the country’s maiden human spaceflight program or Gaganyaan mission but will also help provide life support system to the Indian space crew and heating mechanism for the spacecraft.

Russian space corporation Roscosmos subsidiary Glavkosmos signed a contract with ISRO’s human space flight centre (HSFC) last week "to review a project to assess the possibility of using Russian flight equipment in life support systems and providing thermal regime for the manned spacecraft Gaganyaan", a Roscosmos release said.

Dmitry Loskutov, director general of Glavkosmos, and ISRO’s human space flight centre head Unnikrishnan Nair

Dmitry Loskutov, director general of Glavkosmos, and HSFC head Unnikrishnan Nair had signed the contract for the two critical components for the Rs 10,000-crore Gaganyaan mission, which is scheduled to be launched by December 2021.

An advanced version of GSLV MkIII will be used to send astronauts to space.

A life support system is a group of devices that allow a human to survive in space. The system supplies air, water and food, maintains optimum body temperature and deals with human waste products.

The thermal control system keeps all the spacecraft’s component systems within acceptable temperature ranges during all phases of the mission.

If a component is subjected to extreme temperatures, it could get damaged or its performance could be severely affected.

Spacesuit likely to be used for the Gaganyaan mission

Russia has gained expertise in developing space flight systems as it has been using such critical space survival systems since 1960s.

As such a space mission is new to ISRO, it seems the Indian space agency doesn’t want to waste time in the development of such critical space systems and instead wants to use the expertise of its reliable partner in order to meet the 2022 mission deadline, set by PM Narendra Modi during his Red Fort speech last year.

The Glavkosmos director general said, “We hope the signing of this document and the implementation of its provisions will serve both the development of the Indian space programme and manned space flights, and in general, strengthen Russian-Indian relations. We will be glad to expand our cooperation.”

While expressing gratitude, Unnikrishnan Nair said India and Russia will continue to be reliable partners, including in space cooperation. The contract will be implemented with the participation of Rocket and Space Corporation Energia.

Glavkosmos and ISRO had earlier signed a contract on June 27 in providing support in the selection of astronauts, their medical examination as well as training them for space flight. Under the agreement, Glavkosmos would select and train four Indian astronauts out of the 12 India would sent.

The two countries had then also discussed Indian-crewed flight carrier rocket aerodynamic tests, piloted vehicle and crew rescue system. It was then reported that the two sides may also negotiate the contracts for supply of crew seats, windows and spacesuits.

Before the final manned mission in December 2021, India will test two unmanned missions in December next year and July 2021, in which a humanoid (a robot resembling a human) will be sent to space.

Only if the unmanned missions are successful, the manned mission with three astronauts will be sent to space for five to seven days for performing several experiments, including micro-gravity tests, in space.

If the manned mission is successful, India will become the fourth country in the world after Russia, the US and China to be capable of sending astronauts to space.