Indian Pilots Resume Astronaut Training in Russia

Indian astronaut in training. (Credit: Roscosmos)

STAR CITY, Russia (Roscosmos PR) — The Gagarin Research & Test Cosmonaut Training Center (GCTC) on May 12 resumed training of the Indian cosmonauts under the contract between Glavkosmos, JSC (part of the State Space Corporation Roscosmos) and the Human Spaceflight Center of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

All four Indian cosmonauts undergoing training in Russia are in good health and feel fine. The health of Indian cosmonauts is carefully protected: GCTC continues to observe anti-epidemic regulations according to which sanitary and hygienic measures are carried out at all the GCTC facilities, social distancing measures are applied and the presence of unauthorized persons is restricted; all employees and cosmonauts must wear medical masks and gloves.

This week, the GCTC specialists are giving theoretical classes on the basics of astrogation, the basics of manned spacecraft control and the Russian language to the Indian cosmonauts.

The contract for the training of Indian cosmonauts between Glavkosmos and the Human Spaceflight Center of the Indian Space Research Organisation was signed on June 27, 2019.

Their training in Russia started on February 10, 2020. Since the end of this March, due to the global pandemic of a new coronavirus infection, a lockdown was recommended for the Indian cosmonauts which they carefully observed.

Kleos Space Awarded Contract on Micro-Satellite Military Utility Project

Kleos Scouting Mission (Credit: Kleos Space)

LUXEMBOURG, 19 May 2020 (Kleos Space PR) — Kleos Space (ASX: KSS, Frankfurt: KS1), a space-powered RF reconnaissance data-as-a-service (DaaS) company, has been awarded a contract to prepare Kleos data to be accessed by the Micro-Satellite Military Utility (MSMU Project) Project Arrangement (PA) which is an agreement under the Responsive Space Capabilities Memorandum of Understanding involving the Departments and Ministries of Defense of Australia, Canada, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, United Kingdom and United States.

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NASA-ISRO SAR Satellite Moving Forward Toward Launch

NASA ISRO synthetic aperture radar satellite (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

An U.S.-Indian synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellite is that rarest of NASA’s projects: it is currently on schedule and under budget.

Whether it stays that way depends upon what happens between now and its planned launch aboard an Indian booster in September 2022.

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ISRO Issues Call for Human Spaceflight Technology Development

Announcement of Opportunity (AO)

Development of Technologies for Sustained Indian Human Space Program and Space Exploration

ISRO’s Human Space Program will endeavour to send humans to destinations from low earth orbits and beyond. Human Space Mission requires innovations and creative technologies for space explorations which will lead to widening of scientific knowledge, economic growth, value addition to the quality of life of a common man and thus national development. There is need to build capabilities to derive scientific benefits from ISRO’s Human Spaceflight Program.

There is also a need to establish long term research as well as plan for necessary facilities, human resource developments for optimal utilisations of experimental applications and technological developments for societal usage.

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CNES Directors Give Approval to Trishna, Space Inspire Programs

PARIS LES HALLES, France (CNES PR) — On Thursday, 12 March, CNES’s Board of Directors convened for its 362nd session at the agency’s Head Office in Paris Les Halles, giving the go-ahead to engage France in the development of the French-Indian Trishna programme and to pursue activities for the new Space Inspire series of flexible satellites, as well as development of equipment for the spacecraft bus and shared payload.

Trishna is a mission to deliver thermal-infrared imagery of Earth’s surface at high spatial and temporal resolution. Its observations will help to gain fresh insights into the water cycle and improve management of the planet’s water resources, at a time when the local impacts of climate change are being felt increasingly around the globe.

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Indian Astronaut Candidates Start Training in Russia

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — This Monday Gagarin Research & Test Cosmonaut Training Center (GCTC) has started the planned training program of Indian candidates for a spaceflight under the contract between Glavkosmos, JSC (part of the State Space Corporation Roscosmos) and the Human Spaceflight Centre of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

After thorough selection, the four Indian Air Force fighter pilots became the ISRO candidates for the spaceflight.

The 12-month training program includes comprehensive and biomedical training of the Indian candidates, which will be combined with regular physical practices. In addition, they will study in detail the systems of the Soyuz manned spaceship, as well as they will be trained in short-term weightlessness mode aboard the special Il-76MDK aircraft.

The Indian pilots will also be trained to act correctly in case of abnormal landing of the manned spaceship descent module in various climate and geographic zones. The most part of the training will take place at the GCTC facilities.

The contract for training of the Indian candidates for a spaceflight between Gavkosmos and the Human Spaceflight Centre of the Indian Space Research Organisation was signed on June 27, 2019. The document implies the support of Glavkosmos in selection of candidates, their medical examination, and various aspects of space training.

India Developing New Spaceport for Small Payloads

IANS reports that ISRO has begun buying up land to build a second spaceport to accommodate small satellite launches. ISRO Chairman K. Sivan revealed the plans in a press conference on Wednesday.

“The Tamil Nadu government has begun acquiring about 2,300 acres of land in Thoothukudi district for our second satellite launch port, ideally located for launching smaller satellites in the earth”s lower orbit,” the Indian Space Research Organisation Chairman told reporters here.

“The new location is ideal for launching smaller satellites of less than 500kg in the sun-synchronous orbit,” said Sivan.

India launches it satellites from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota. The PSLV, GSLV Mk. II and GSLV Mk. III boosters are launched from the spaceport.

ISRO is developing a new booster, rather creatively called the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (or SSLV), to serve that market. Currently, small satellites are launched as secondary payloads or as part of dedicated missions aboard India’s existing boosters.

ISRO Confirms Chandrayaan-3 Lunar Landing Mission

Chandrayaan-2 rover (Credit: ISRO)

ISRO Chairman K. Sivan confirmed the Indian space agency will launch a new lunar lander and rover to replace the ones that crashed as part of the Chandrayaan-2 mission last year. The BBC reports:

He said the country was aiming to launch the mission in 2020 but that it “may spill over” to 2021….

Mr Sivan said the new mission would land in the same area, and would “have a lander, rover and propulsion module like its predecessor”. The new equipment is set to cost some $35m (£26m), while the full cost of the mission is set to be significantly more.

Jitendra Singh, junior minister for the department of space, has said the new mission will be “quite economical”.

“The orbiter is already there. So we are going to be cutting cost,” he told the Times of India.

India Selects 4 Pilots for First Gaganyaan Space Mission

Capsule descending under parachute (Credit: ISRO)

ISRO says it has selected four pilots from the Indian Air Force to begin training in Russia later this month for the first Gaganyaan orbital mission. The Hindu reports that Chairman K. Sivan made the announcement on New Year’s Day.

The initial tests were conducted in the IAF’s Institute of Aerospace Medicine, Bengaluru, and Russia. The four will leave in the third week of January to be trained at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Centre in Moscow, as per an agreement signed between the space agencies of the two countries last year.

Gaganyaan, announced by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in August 2018, is the ₹10,000-crore Indian human space flight scheduled for 2022. It is designed to have 3-7 crew members spend 3-7 days in space in a 400-km orbit.

Dr. Sivan said Gaganyaan activities were on track. However it was not known yet how many astronauts would finally travel to space.

The first of the two pre-Gaganyaan flights with a humanoid will be launched this year-end along with some of the six shortlisted micro-gravity experiments, Dr. Sivan said. 

ISRO Chief: We Found Vikram Rover First, Not NASA

This image shows the Vikram Lander impact point and associated debris field. Green dots indicate spacecraft debris (confirmed or likely). Blue dots locate disturbed soil, likely where small bits of the spacecraft churned up the regolith. “S” indicates debris identified by Shanmuga Subramanian. This portion of the Narrow Angle Camera mosaic was made from images M1328074531L/R and M1328081572L/R acquired Nov. 11. (Credits: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University)

ISRO Chairman K Sivan is disputing that idea that NASA was the first to positively identified the wreckage of India’s Vikram lunar lander after its location was discovered by Indian amateur astronomer Shanmuga Subramanium.

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Vikram Lander Wreckage Found on Lunar Surface

This image shows the Vikram Lander impact point and associated debris field. Green dots indicate spacecraft debris (confirmed or likely). Blue dots locate disturbed soil, likely where small bits of the spacecraft churned up the regolith. “S” indicates debris identified by Shanmuga Subramanian. This portion of the Narrow Angle Camera mosaic was made from images M1328074531L/R and M1328081572L/R acquired Nov. 11. (Credits: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — The Chandrayaan 2 Vikram lander was targeted for a highland smooth plain about 600 kilometers from the south pole; unfortunately the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) lost contact with their lander shortly before the scheduled touchdown (Sept. 7 in India, Sept. 6 in the United States).  Despite the loss, getting that close to the surface was an amazing achievement.

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera team released the first mosaic (acquired Sept. 17) of the site on Sept. 26 and many people have downloaded the mosaic to search for signs of Vikram. Shanmuga Subramanian contacted the LRO project with a positive identification of debris. After receiving this tip, the LROC team confirmed the identification by comparing before and after images.

This before and after image ratio highlights changes to the surface; the impact point is near center of the image and stands out due the dark rays and bright outer halo. Note the dark streak and debris about 100 meters to the SSE of the impact point. Diagonal straight lines are uncorrected background artifacts. (Credits: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University)

When the images for the first mosaic were acquired the impact point was poorly illuminated and thus not easily identifiable. Two subsequent image sequences were acquired on Oct. 14 and 15, and Nov. 11.

The LROC team scoured the surrounding area in these new mosaics and found the impact site (70.8810°S,  22.7840°E, 834 m elevation) and associated debris field. The November mosaic had the best pixel scale (0.7 meter) and lighting conditions (72° incidence angle).

Before and after images show the Vikram impact point. Changes to the surface are subtle and are more easily seen in the ratio image presented above. (Credits: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University)

The debris first located by Shanmuga is about 750 meters northwest of the main crash site and was a single bright pixel identification in that first mosaic (1.3 meter pixels, 84° incidence angle). The November mosaic shows best the impact crater, ray and extensive debris field. The three largest pieces of debris are each about 2×2 pixels and cast a one pixel shadow.

NASA, JAXA Issue Joint Statement Pledging to Explore the Moon

Artist’s rendering of an ascent vehicle separating from a descent vehicle and departing the lunar surface. (Credit: NASA)

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)
and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)


Joint Statement on Cooperation in Lunar Exploration

During their September 24, 2019, meeting at JAXA Headquarters in Tokyo, NASA Administrator James Bridenstine and JAXA President Hiroshi Yamakawa welcomed the ongoing engagement between their agencies to realize JAXA’s participation in NASA’s Artemis program and vision for the participation of Japanese astronauts in lunar exploration.

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Report: Work on Chandrayaan-1 Progressing Smoothly

The Times of India reports that engineers are making good progress in preparing that nation’s first lunar orbiter, Chandrayaan-1, for launch later this year.

The spacecraft is being assembled at the Indian Space Research Organisation’s facility in Bangalore. Officials report that five instruments from the United States and Europe have been successfully tested.

The launch has slipped a couple of months. ISRO officials have said they expect to send the orbiter off on its mission sometime in the third quarter of the year.