[India], Dec 3 (ANI): As India prepares to launch its maiden human space flight programme, Gaganyan, by 2022, Russian Ambassador to India Nikolay Kudashev on Monday said that his country is ready to assist India in all ways, particularly in the training of its astronauts and in the areas of safety and communications.
Speaking on the sidelines of an event at the Russian Embassy where a painting of India's first astronaut, Wing Cdr (Rtd) Rakesh Sharma was unveiled, Kudashev underlined that India and Russia have a long history of partnership in the field of space and "Russian scientists will be happy to partner with India's space programme."
India's first astronaut, Wing Cdr Rakesh Sharma, travelled to space on April 2, 1984 onboard Soyuz T-11 along with Russian astronauts.
"It is a pleasure to know that India is launching its own project and planning to send its manned mission to space. We have several years of partnership with India. During the Summit talks between President (Vladimir Putin) and Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi, a relevant memorandum was signed between the two sides," he said.
"There are different dimensions of this which include the development of relevant launcher, the exploratory unit, living quarters of the team, safety and communication measures and preparations of cosmonauts for such a long flight. That is where our experience is there for 60 years," Kudashev added while referring to the MoU signed between Roscosmos and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) during the annual summit between Russia and India in October this year.
He added that during External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj's visit to Russia in September this year, the possibility of training of Indian astronauts apart from crew module and life support systems was explored.
India's first man in space, Wing Cdr (Retd) Sharma said that ever since he travelled to space in April 1984 a lot has changed in terms of technology and safety. He added that instead of waiting for its own infrastructure to come up, India should start training its astronauts with friendly space-faring nations.
"ISRO has achieved milestones and it is looking ahead at exploration for which the human being has to go into space. ISRO will continue to be as successful in this programme as they have been in the past.Things have become safer now compared to 35 years back. But as far as the challenges are there - physical, physiological--they haven't changed and that will be the same. Whatever training has to be done is going to be as relevant today as it was earlier," said Sharma.
"I am quite sure we will be able to do it, initially perhaps with some consultancy and later by ourselves. It will take a while for the infrastructure to come into place. Rather than wait for infrastructure to be first commissioned and then start the training, we can always take help from friendly space-faring nations and we will be able to crush the time cycle," Sharma added.
He added that India needs to build a full corps of astronauts for a sustainable space programme. "If you are going to have a sustainable manned space programme, and if we are going to be a part of colonising the Moon first and later perhaps the Mars, then obviously we will have to have a full corps of astronauts," Sharma added.
India has set a target of 2022 to put it three astronauts into space for seven days through its own space mission. (ANI)