NEW DELHI: The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), which has finalised the syllabus for astronaut training in India, mainly for the Gaganyaan programme now, will soon be making operational a basic or an ad hoc astronaut training facility off old airport road in Bengaluru.
While this centre — hosting at least three types of simulators and other training facilities — is expected to become operational as early as December, a larger, more sophisticated astronaut training unit will eventually come up in Challakere, some 200 km from Bengaluru for future human-space programmes.
“We are looking at next month for the inauguration. This will be an ad hoc facility being designed specifically for Gaganyaan,” Isro chairman K Sivan said.
As reported by TOI earlier, Isro, which had been planning a human spaceflight programme from at least 2010, had considered multiple areas for the proposed astronaut training facility. Initially, the proximity to its own headquarters and the Institute of Aerospace Medicine (IAM) on old airport road was considered significantly important.
Given the extent of land required, the agency was looking at an area near one of its guest houses in Devanahalli near KIA, which would be close enough to Bengaluru, while also exploring places near IAM within the city. The Devanahalli plot, a senior scientist said, was in play immediately after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the mission.
Eventually, Isro decided to create a full-fledged astronaut training centre in Challakere. This will come up in a few years later and is meant for future missions as it could not be developed within the timeline set for Gaganyaan.
The facility & syllabus
Isro Human Space Flight Centre (HSFC) director S Unnikrishnan Nair told TOI the plot belongs to URSAC and is near IAM and Isro Satellite Integration and Testing Establishment. “This is where Gaganyaan astronauts will train. The facility will host different kinds of simulators and also have space for theory classes.”
He added that the syllabus for astronaut training has been finalised and that the faculty panel has members from institutions like IAM, IISc, IIT, former astronauts like Rakesh Sharma and some former Isro directors/deputy directors.
“It is a vast syllabus focusing on areas like crew module, orbital module, redundancies, where various items will be in the module, orbital distance, technical and theoretical systems, humidity and temperature et al,” Nair said.
For the practical training, he added Isro was working on commissioning three types of simulators, including the final one that will be the crew-module simulator with internal settings and environment control and life support systems.
“The first ones are virtual reality simulators being procured commercially. Here the crew will have various displays to learn from and these will be put up on a desktop. From vehicle parameters to mission and support, everything will be on a desktop. The second simulator will simulate various interactions with the machine and so on. And then the real-crew-module simulator with all the internal settings will come up. The last one will be built gradually,” Nair said.
Nair added that no decision was made on what would happen to this facility once the full-fledged astronaut training centre comes up in Challakere, while Sivan said that is still some time away. “Right now, we’re focused on training for Gaganyaan in particular.”

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