Talking to TOI, Isro chairman K Sivan said, “We have fixed all criteria and requirements for crew selection and training and submitted the same to the IAF. The air force has now been given the full task of selection and training of the crew. The first two levels of training of the crew will happen at the IAF’s Institute of Aerospace Medicine (Bengaluru) and the final phase of training will be abroad.”
On the number of crew, Sivan said, “We want IAF to train 10 candidates for the Gaganyaan mission. Out of them, we will pick final three for the maiden space journey.” On crew training abroad, the chairman said they have two-three countries like Russia and France in mind and but “no final call has been taken yet”.
IAM, which is affiliated to the Armed Forces Medical Services, is the only institute in India and South East Asia that conducts research in aerospace medicine. It conducts research in aerospace medicine and trains airmen and pilots. The institute, earlier called Institute of Aviation Medicine, had earlier provided medical support to the Indo-Soviet manned space flight programme in 1980s. “Since the infrastructure such as simulators at IAM is one of the best in the country, Isro wants to join hands with IAM to train the crew members of Gaganyaan mission,” said Bipin Puri, director general, Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS), according to an agency report.
On January 30 this year, Isro had inaugurated the Human Space Flight Centre at the agency headquarters in Bengaluru. The centre will be responsible for the implementation of the Gaganyaan project, which involves end-to-end mission planning and development of engineering systems for crew survival in space. The centre will also pursue activities for sustained human space flight missions.
To avoid the risk of endangering human lives, Isro will conduct two unmannned missions before the final mission and will carry humanoids (a robot resembling a human being). “The first unmanned test-flight will be in December 2020. The second unmanned test will be conducted in July 2021 and finally the human space flight will be launched in December 2021,” Sivan earlier told TOI.
In December-end, the Union Cabinet had cleared Rs 10,000 crore for the project. Till date, Isro has spent Rs 173 crore in developing critical technologies for the human space flight. Critical technologies needed for HSP include a crew module (CM), crew escape system (CES) and environmental control and life support system (ECLSS). Most of these technologies have been developed. Even space suit for astronauts is also ready. Isro is also developing an advanced version of the GSLV-MkIII for the Gaganyaan project.