4 Indian pilots training in Russia for Gaganyaan mission in self-isolation as a precautionary measure

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By
Apr 09, 2020 08:47 AM IST

 There was no official word from the Indian side on the development.

Four Indian pilots currently being trained in Russia for the Gaganyaan manned space mission have gone into self-isolation purely as a precautionary measure following the detection of nine Covid-19 cases in the Russian space agency, people familiar with developments said on Wednesday.

G(Yogendra Kumar/HT PHOTO)
G(Yogendra Kumar/HT PHOTO)

The pilots from the Indian Air Force, being trained at the Yuri Gagarin Research and Test Cosmonaut Training Center at Star City near Moscow, are all in good health and the self-isolation was part of the standard procedures for dealing with the situation, said people who spoke on condition of anonymity.

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“They have not been infected,” said one of the people cited above.

There was no official word from the Indian side on the development.

Dmitry Rogozin, director-general of Roscosmos, Russia’s space agency, told the media on Monday that nine employees of the corporation had been infected by the coronavirus. He said all the infected employees were receiving treatment.

Till last week, the number of infected Roscosmos employees at different locations of the corporation was four.

The pilots began their training in Russia in February. However, routine activities at the Russian facility, such as the training programme, have been temporarily suspended by the Covid-19 pandemic. The Indians had made good progress in the training so far and cleared some tests, the people said.

Russia, which has recorded more than 8,600 infections and 63 deaths, is currently under lockdown till April 30. The lockdown also applies to the cosmonaut training centre and medical teams are regularly screening and monitoring all personnel at the facility.

The training programme for the Indian pilots, who were chosen from among hundreds of applicants, will last a year and focus on both basic astronaut training and issues specific to the Gaganyaan mission planned for 2022.

The Human Space Flight Centre of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Russia’s state-run Glavkosmos signed a contract for the training programme in 2019.

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