At end of delegation level talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladmir Putin, a MoU was inked between ISRO and the Federal Space Agency of Russia ‘ROSCOSMOS’ for joint activities in the field of Human Spaceflight Programme.
The Russian side has offered a ride to Indian astronaut a short visit to International Space Station (ISS) on board a Soyuz spacecraft for a short training mission in 2022. India hopes to send its first manned mission Gaganyaan in 2022.
Talking to reporters, Dr Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, Head, Nuclear and Space Policy Initiative, Observer Research Foundation said, “Historically, India-Russia space cooperation was very strong, with the Soviet Union being one of the three partners who helped India get off the ground with its space programme. While this continued for several decades included for sending an Indian cosmonaut in a Soviet Soyuz mission in 1982, this relationship has begun to slow down in the last decade.”
Adding, “The China factor has been a determining factor to the extent where India’s Chandrayaan 2 mission has been delayed significantly. Russia had agreed to supply ISRO with the Rover for the second moon mission but this has not come through and now ISRO is building its own Rover.”
“After India announced its manned space mission, there have been interesting debates about where India should train its astronauts. The options are of course the US and Russia and both have offered India all assistance in this regard. How India decides on this issue will be interesting. If India will take clues from the Chandrayaan 2 mission, it will be more prudent,” observed Rajagopalan.