Bengaluru: India and the United States may not be on the same page over India’s defence projects with Russia. But that certainly has not influenced India over it seeking help with Russia for the prestigious Gaganyaan project.

The two countries even signed an agreement in this regard, as per which, Indian astronauts will be trained in Russia.

It might be recalled that K Sivan, ISRO chairman had said that India would prefer Russia keeping in mind their “successful experiences” of working together.

The Times of India quoted Rakesh Sharma, a member of the National Advisory Council (NAC), advising ISRO thus: “I think it’s logical to go with Russia as it has been tried and tested. We’ve used the facility before and therefore it makes eminent sense. I am unaware of the state of readiness of the other training establishments, but given our tight timelines, this appears most logical.”

Natalia Lokteva, first deputy director general, Glavkosmos (a subsidiary of Roscosmos State Corporation, Russia’s space agency) and S Unnikrishnan Nair, director, Human Space Flight Centre (HSFC) of ISRO, signed the deal.

The newspaper had earlier quoted Sivan as saying, “The training will be in three levels. After the rigorous selection progress, two levels of training will be conducted at IAM (Institute of Aerospace Medicine) and the third level will be held abroad. Simulation of real space environment, parabolic flights and training in the spacecraft et al will be done abroad.”

What is Gaganyaan project?

With this ambitious project, India hopes to send a spacecraft by the end of 2021, with three people onboard. It will orbit the earth at a height of 400 km for up to seven days.

The spacecraft will be launched on ISRO’s GSLV Mk III. The crew module has been designed by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).