India likely to ink pact with Russia for Gaganyaan

Vastavam web: After an agreement with France, India could ink a pact with Russia for sharing of expertise on ISRO’s ambitious human space mission project ‘Gaganyaan’ during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to New Delhi next month, official sources said. Besides ‘Gaganyaan’, the two sides are currently engaged in talks to establish ground stations for Glonass, the global positioning system of Russia, and NaVIC, India’s home-grown GPS in the other country, the sources added.

The subject to share expertise on ‘Gaganyaan’ came up during External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s visit to Moscow this month, a source said. The human mission project envisages sending three Indians to space by 2022. India’s first and – so far – the only astronaut Rakesh Sharma visited the outer space in 1984 on a spacecraft of the erstwhile Soviet Union.

In an MoU signed between India and Russia in May 2015, the Indian Space Research Organisation and ROSCOSMOS, the Russian space agency, had agreed to work on joint activities in areas of mutual interest, including satellite navigation, launch vehicle development, critical technologies for human spaceflight programme. Russia is one of the three countries the other two being France and the US that share robust cooperation in all three strategic sectors of defence, nuclear and space with India.

Indo-Russian space collaboration dates back to four decades. In 2015, the two sides marked the 40th anniversary of the launch of India’s first satellite ‘Aryabhatt’ on a Russian (then USSR) launch vehicle ‘Soyuz’.