India-France Sign Agreement for Cooperation on Gaganyaan Mission

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Space agencies of India and France on Thursday signed an agreement for cooperation for the country’s first human space mission Gaganyaan, the French space agency CNES said. The agreement was announced during French Foreign Affairs minister Jean-Yves Le Drian visit to the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) headquarters.

ISRO has asked CNES to help prepare for Gaganyaan missions and to serve as its single European contact in this domain. “Under the terms of the agreement, CNES will train India’s flight physicians and CAPCOM mission control teams in France at the CADMOS centre for the development of microgravity applications and space operations at CNES in Toulouse and at the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) in Cologne, Germany,” the CNES said.

The agreement provides for the CNES to support implementation of a scientific experiment plan on validation missions, exchange information on food packaging and the nutrition programme, and above all the use by Indian astronauts of French equipment, consumables and medical instruments. French equipment developed by CNES, tested and still operating aboard the International Space Station (ISS) will thus be made available to Indian crews. Thomas Pesquet, who is set to make his second flight to the International Space Station on April 22 for the Alpha mission, had previously tested these devices on his first spaceflight. The CNES will also be supplying fireproof carry bags made in France to shield equipment from shocks and radiation, it said.

“This cooperation could be extended in the future to parabolic flights operated by Novespace to test instruments and for astronaut training, as well as technical support for construction of an astronaut training centre in Bangalore,” the CNES added. The Gaganyaan orbital spacecraft project was kicked off in August 2018. It originally intended to send astronauts from Indian soil to mark the 75th anniversary of India’s independence in 2022. However, the mission has been delayed due to the restrictions imposed in view of the coronavirus pandemic.

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