Four astronauts shortlisted for Gaganyaan, India's first manned space mission, resumed their training in Russia in May after it was put on hold due to COVID-19 scare

Russian research and development Enterprise 'Zvezda' has started manufacturing space suits for the Indian astronauts, who are likely to be part of India's first manned space mission 'Gaganyaan', a Russian organisation said on Monday. Four astronauts shortlisted for Gaganyaan, India's first manned space mission, resumed their training in Russia in May after it was put on hold due to COVID-19 scare.

"Research, Development and Production Enterprise Zvezda, a subsidiary of Russian space organisation ROSCOSMOS, has started manufacturing personal flight equipment for the Indian cosmonauts undergoing training in Russia," said Glavkosmos on Monday.

"On September 3, Indian cosmonauts who have been training for spaceflight in Russia under the contract of Glavkosmos visited Zvezda, where their anthropometric parameters were measured for the subsequent production of spacesuits. The contract also provides for the production of individual seats and custom-made couch liners," said Glavkosmos CEO Dmitry Loskutov.

Glavkosmos is a subsidiary of ROSCOSMOS with which the Human Spaceflight Centre (HSC) of the city-based Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has signed a contract to train the Indian astronauts.

The contract for the production and delivery of individual equipment kits for Indian astronauts was signed by Glavkosmos and ISRO's Human Spaceflight Centre (HSC) on March 11. Indian cosmonauts have been training in Russia since February 10, 2020.

Earlier in May, Russian space corporation, ROSCOSMOS in a statement had said, "Gagarin Research & Test Cosmonaut Training Centre (GCTC) on May 12 resumed training of the Indian cosmonauts under the contract between Glavkosmos, JSC (part of the State Space Corporation ROSCOSMOS) and the Human Spaceflight Centre of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)." All four Indian cosmonauts were in good health.

"GCTC continues to observe anti-epidemic regulations according to which sanitary and hygienic measures are carried out at all the GCTC facilities, social distancing measures are applied and the presence of unauthorized persons is restricted; all employees and cosmonauts must wear medical masks and gloves," it had added.

Four Indian Air Force fighter pilots are currently under training in Moscow and are likely to be potential candidates for the Gaganyaan project. The Rs 10,000-crore ambitious project is expected to be launched in 2022, the year of the 75th anniversary of India's Independence.

The contract for the training of Indian astronauts between Glavkosmos and the Human Spaceflight Centre of ISRO was signed on June 27, 2019, and their training in Russia started on February 10, 2020. Since the end of March, due to the outbreak of COVID-19 infection, a lockdown was recommended for the Indian cosmonauts which they carefully observed, it said.

Earlier, officials had said that after the training in Russia, the astronauts will receive module-specific training in India, where they would be trained in crew and service module designed by ISRO, learn to operate it, work around it and do simulations.

Gaganyaan, India's first manned mission to space, was planned around 2022. However, the ISRO has indicated that it may be delayed due to COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown induced by it.