NEW DELHI, April 6. /TASS/. The training of four Indian candidates to take part in the country’s first manned mission to space has been put on hold in Russia due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, the NDTV channel reported on Monday.
The channel said, citing sources close to India’s space program, that the Russian facility where the prospective astronauts were being trained, had been temporarily closed due to coronavirus.
"Our (prospective) astronauts are fine. They are currently in hostel. We have been told the Centre will open by the end of the month," one of the sources told reporters.
When asked whether the four-week pause in preparations may damage the space program, sources said that the 12-month training program has a three-month buffer to factor in exigencies.
In August 2018, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that his country would send its first national spacecraft and crew to the International Space Station (ISS) around 2022, when India will mark the 75th anniversary of independence. The mission was named Gaganyan, which means "sky vehicle" in Sanskrit. Prior to the manned spacecflight, India will hold two uncrewed launches of Gaganyan.
Four test pilots of the Indian Air Force, selected to crew the spacecraft, begun their training at the Yu.A Gagarin Research and Test Cosmonaut Training Centre near Moscow in February.