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Russia puts Astronauts’ training on hold amid lockdown

The training of Gaganyaan’s four potential astronauts in Russia has been put on a pause for some time as the facility where the exercise is being done has been closed due to the lockdown in the wake of coronavirus outbreak, sources shared on April 6.

The four test pilots of the Indian Air Force, chosen for India’s first manned assignment to space, have been going through this training at the Yu.A. Gagarin Research and Test Cosmonaut Training Centre near Moscow since February.

However, since last week the center has been closed because of the coronavirus outbreak, sources informed.

“Our (prospective) astronauts are fine. They are presently in a hostel. We have been told the center will resume by April end,” a source revealed.

Though the program is for a year, the training group had already kept a buffer of 3 months in their hand. Therefore, the hold on training due to the corona outbreak won’t hamper the designed schedule of the training procedure.

India’s first manned mission to space — Gaganyaan — is planned around 2022. Under this about Rs. 10,000-crores mission, three Indians will go to the low earth orbit of 300-400 kilometers.
The sources said ISRO has also put on hold a month-long training of flight surgeons in Russia due to the lockdown both in India and Russia.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Russia till this time reported 4,731 deaths and 44 deaths.

Elaborating on the role of a Flight Surgeon, the source said:  “Flight surgeons have to develop a little personal rapport with the astronauts. This is why we planned that the flight surgeons will go to Russia in rotation.”

Presently, there is one flight surgeon and an ISRO official in Russia, apart from the four astronauts.

“Our activities in Russia are not as planned. Since both the participating countries need a quarantine of 14 days after travel, we have asked our team to stay put there. So there is no point in sending anyone there now. The fresh team will not go to Russia until things get better,” the source asserted.

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