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Russian collaboration for ‘Gaganyaan’ crucial to meet 2022 launch deadline: Sivathanu Pillai

India’s collaboration with Russia for the manned mission to space ‘Gaganyaan’ will help India meet its deadline of launching the mission in 2022. Russia will provide the life support system and training for IAF pilots who have been shortlisted, said A. Sivathanu Pillai, former scientist at DRDO.

“There is an agreement between India and Russia for selection, training of cosmonauts and the life support system. This is a very big technology that is going to be made available. Our schedule [for the launch] is 2022. If we do everything by ourselves, it will take time, that is why we have gone for a collaboration with Russia,” Mr. Pillai, told The Hindu.

Mr. Pillai, currently the DRDO Dr. D.S. Kothari Chair at IIT-M Research Park, said, “To make the GSLV- Mkiii you need support. The collaboration will help provide life support system in time”.

“The launch vehicle also needs certain change because it needs to carry human beings. If there is a problem at the launch time, they need to escape, so an escape suit is needed – that has been tested. ISRO is testing all modules in time. The recovery module has been made and two experiments have been done,” he said.

Dr. Pillai said the pilots will be trained by Russia at Moscow, and they will be evaluated based on the training. “They will be taken through various things like shock, vibration, acceleration, radiation in space, health monitoring, the kind of food they have to eat in space, how to carry out their daily activities like urination and other things,” he said.
The IAF has shortlisted 12 pilots for the mission and about seven have been sent to Russia for screening process. Following the training process, only four will be shortlisted out of which only one or two will make it to the final mission, he said.

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