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Gaganyaan: Four IAF pilots complete winter survival training at Russia centre

Four Indian trainee astronauts preparing for Gaganyaan — India’s first manned space mission — have completed their winter survival training programme as part of a year-long astronaut training course conducted by the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Russia.

The training included survival techniques required in the event of the crew landing in a cold zone and was “successfully overcome by representatives of the Indian Space Research Organisation,” the training centre has reported. The winter survival course was conducted from February 12 to March 6 for trainee and experienced astronauts training for future missions.

The programme involved “theoretical and practical exercises on tactics of behaviour and actions after landing a descent vehicle in extreme conditions using equipment on board a spaceship as well as improvised material,” according to the training centre.

The trainees were also put through a two-day practical survival test by a team comprising instructors, doctors, psychologists and other specialists. The centre has reported that specialists who conducted the tests found a “high level of motivation and skill among the Indian candidates”.

“They did not get the most favourable weather conditions. On their training days, it was raining, there was wet snow, an ice crust that formed was melting underfoot,” the centre noted. Despite the difficult situation, they completed all the tasks under the guidance of specialists, it observed.

The training programme involves looking for a safe place to organise a camp, building two types of shelters, conducting radio exchanges as per regulations, sending out fire signals, tending to injured persons and getting rescued by a helicopter.

The four Indian Air Force test pilots began their basic training for space missions at the centre on February 10.

The four pilots will return to India for mission-specific training after a year at the Gagarin Centre. “Generic astronaut training is happening in Russia. Russian systems are different from that of the Gaganyaan. Mission-specific training will happen in India,” officials have said.

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