Gaganyaan: Isro now in advance talks with NASA for key tech

The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), which has already engaged with multiple countries to urge help with various facets of India’s first human spaceflight mission — Gaganyaan — is now in talks with the US’ NASA, examining if it can gain access to some critical technologies concerning astronaut safety. 

“Given that Covid-19 has already affected the timeline of the mission, we hope to expedite it by accessing some technologies that are already ready. NASA and Isro had been exploring a long-term partnership for the human spaceflight programme, and this might be a start,” a source said. 

TOI reported earlier this month that Ganganyaan may miss the August 2022 deadline set by Prime Minister Modi due to the pandemic. 

Isro chairman K Sivan, while confirming that the agency has initiated talks with NASA, however, said that they were during a very nascent stage and no decision on whether or not there would be a partnership has been made. 

“We will still be developing things ourselves, but we are watching accessing a number of the technologies, like green propulsion, life-support systems then on, given the tight schedule. Nothing has fructified so far,” Sivan said. 

Isro, as reported by TOI earlier, had been in talks with space agencies from a minimum of three countries including the US for astronaut training and eventually decided to partner with Russia due to the tight schedule it had to satisfy for Gaganyaan. 

If talks become a partnership then the US, which has been keen on partnering on Gaganyaan, would become the third country to be helping Isro launch India’s first astronauts from Indian soil. As on date, four Indian astronaut-elects are training in Russia as a part of Isro agreement with Glavkosmos, a subsidiary of Russian space agency Roscosmos, which has been in talks with Isro for some life-support systems. Russia has also started production of customised space suits for the astronauts, while the French space agency has also partnered with Isro. 

Sam Scimemi, director, International space platform (ISS), Nasa headquarters, had told TOI in January: “We were in discussions, i feel the Russians and Isro were prepared to maneuver a lot quicker which i feel was advantageous for the Indian space agency given the timeframe that you’ve been given to send humans into space.” 

What expedited the Russia agreement was also the very fact that India was slightly more conversant in Russian systems as long as Rakesh Sharma had flown to space on a Soviet mission in 1984.

Source- TNN

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