Last week, India and the landlocked nation of Mongolia signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cooperation and usage of outer space for civilian purposes. An MoU on disaster management was also signed during Mongolian President Khaltmaagiin Battulga’s State Visit to India.
A joint statement released by the Ministry of External Affairs said that the agreement on space exploration would “…provide a framework for expansion of mutually beneficial cooperation particularly in the fields of remote sensing, satellite communication, and applications of space technology in areas including resource management, weather forecasting and disaster management and etc.”.
In 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Mongolia, which strengthened bilateral relations between the two countries, which are governed by the Treaty of Friendly Relations and Cooperation, signed in February 1994.
Mongolia and space
An MoU similar to the one signed Thursday was signed in 2004 between the Department of Space, Government of India and the Ministry of Infrastructure, Government of Mongolia. That agreement provided a framework for the two countries in the areas of space science and technology.
It included activities in the areas of satellites, sounding rockets, balloons and ground facilities for space research. “The agreement also covers studies related to satellite communications, satellite-based remote sensing and satellite meteorology, satellite ground stations and satellite mission management, training facilities and exchange of scientists,” according to information on the website of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
In April 2017, Mongolia launched its first satellite, the Mongol Sat-1, in partnership with telecom and broadcast provider Asia Broadcast Satellite, in order to “diversify its resource-dependent economy”. Later that same year, it launched a ‘CubeSat’ miniature satellite called Mazaalai, named after the highly endangered Gobi bear of Mongolia.
Mazaalai was launched as part of the SpaceX CRS-11 mission, carried on a Falcon 9 rocket that lifted off from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, United States. CubeSats are meant for space research, and Maazalai was launched along with CubeSats from Japan, Nigeria, Ghana, and Bangladesh.
The central aim of Mazaalai was to be able to conduct independent space research, develop accurate maps, and to be able to prevent natural disasters.
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