Russia will help India build a manned spacecraft and send an Indian into space by 2020 under a 10-year cooperation programme using the technology it uses to build its Soyuz spacecraft, an official of the Russian space agency Roskosmos said in Moscow on Wednesday.
"The Indian side intends to use the experience of building the manned spaceship Soyuz to advance in building their own spaceship. We will build this spaceship on a similar technical scheme, but it will not resemble Soyuz," Alexei Krasnov, chief of the department of piloted programmes at Roskomos, said.
The spaceship would be smaller than the Soyuz, as Indian launch vehicles are too light to deliver a full-size Soyuz into orbit. "With Roskosmos's appropriate support we will be able to reequip technically and increase the production of the spaceships," Krasnov said.
Krasnov noted, ''It is not surprising that India has turned to Russia for help in its space programme, as we have been cooperating since Soviet times.'' India's first astronaut Rakesh Sharma travelled into space aboard a Soyuz in 1984.
He spent eight days on the Salyut-7 orbital station and did various scientific experiments. Subsequent plans to send two Indian astronauts to space on a US shuttle were scrapped after the Challenger disaster in 1986.
The project is in the early stages at the moment and will take at least a decade to complete, according to Krasnov.
Russia and India have a number of joint space and military projects, including a moon exploration programme and a fifth-generation fighter jet.