Stepping up space cooperation, India and France Thursday inked an agreement to collaborate on Gaganyaan, ISRO’s first human space mission.
The two countries have formed a working group for the project.
The ambit of the cooperation includes giving ISRO access to space hospital facilities in France and combining expertise of the two space agencies in fields of space medicine, astronaut health monitoring, life support, radiation protection, space debris protection and personal hygiene systems, the president of the French space agency Jean-Yves Le Gall said.
The MoU was signed to define the conditions in which we are going to work together, the CNES president said.
India plans to send three humans to space before 2022. The Indian Space Research Organisation’s mission is significant as it would make India one of the four countries in the world after Russia, US and China to launch a manned space flight.
“The first step under the MoU is to exchange specialists to work on (space) medicine. We are going to send our specialists to identify exactly what we are going to do together. We have facilities like space hospital in France, and so we are doing exchange notes on the topic,” Gall said in an interaction with PTI.
Engineering teams have already begun discussions and it is envisioned that infrastructure such as CADMOS centre for development of microgravity applications and space operations or the MEDES space clinic will be used for training of future Indian astronauts, as well as exchange of specialist personnel, Gall said.
ISRO plans to conduct experiments on microgravity through its astronauts.
The seeds of the MoU were sown when India and France released a joint vision on space cooperation during French President Emmanuel Marcon’s visit to Delhi this March.
Under the vision statement, it was agreed that ISRO and CNES would jointly develop capabilities and critical technologies addressing radiation shielding solutions, personal hygiene and waste management system and design of man-in-loop simulators for human space flight as well as bioastronautics.
ISRO chairman K Sivan said the joint vision statement was an umbrella agreement while Thursday’s MoU was more specific to the human space mission. French-Indian space cooperation spans in areas of climate monitoring, with a fleet of joint satellites devoted to research and operational applications, innovation, through a joint technical group tasked with inventing launch vehicles of the future.
The two space agencies also plan to work on Mars, Venus and asteroids.
Gall said, “The joint Oceansat3-Argos mission scheduled to launch next year, the French-Indian Trishna thermal infrared imaging satellite are being readied, and a study to develop a joint constellation of satellites for maritime domain awareness is also underway.”
France is one of the three countries—the other two being the US and Russia—who share robust cooperation in the three strategic areas of defence, nuclear and space.