The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Japanese space agency (JAXA) have begun preliminary discussions for a joint mission to the moon involving a landing on its surface and a return with samples, top officials of the two agencies said on Friday.
Speaking on the sidelines of the 24th meeting of the Asia Pacific Regional Space Agency forum, ISRO chairman A S Kiran Kumar and JAXA director Naoki Okumura said that the two agencies have begun exploring the possibility of combining forces for a joint lunar mission.
“While Japan and India have done independent lunar missions, discussions are currently on for what kind of joint mission we can undertake. This is in a very preliminary stage,” ISRO chairman Kiran Kumar said. “We are looking at the data we have on lunar mission, what is the major target. After these discussions we will have an agreement. I hope we can do it soon,” Okumura said.
The efforts at launching a joint lunar mission are part of increasing collaboration between the two countries, the heads of the two space agencies said. “We are trying to improve our relationship by focusing on some specific topics. Last year we signed an agreement for collaboration between ISRO and JAXA. We are now thinking of a lunar exploration. I believe that India and Japan lead the space sector in the Asia Pacific region through this collaboration,” the JAXA director said.
“In the future we will also be looking at how we can make use of this relationship for generating more inputs for climate change,” Kiran Kumar said. Meanwhile, the Asia Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum has recommended that the established space agencies in the region should “promote space application, including rice crop monitoring, global rainfall monitoring, fire hotspot, haze monitoring and disaster management”.