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ISRO chief calls for a leap in Indo-US space ties

The chief of India’s space programme has voiced concern over the “slow” growth of Indo-US space cooperation...

The chief of India’s space programme has voiced concern over the “slow” growth of Indo-US space cooperation and wants the two countries to take a leap by having more space commerce also.

“There are pluses and minuses. But we have to be patient… we have to convince,” said the Chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) G Madhavan Nair, adding that “the process is rather slow and I wish it was faster”.

Nair, who is due to hold talks with his American counterparts, also seemed to suggest that the “good understanding” at the political level between the two countries should be matched by a leap in their space ties.

“At the political level there is a good understanding. In 2005, our Prime Minister visited here and with President Bush agreed to strengthen relations in space cooperation, space commerce and so on. We are trying to move forward on this,” said Nair.

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Nair made these remarks at a seminar on “Global Space Agenda” under the aegis of the Space Initiatives of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a top think tank in Washington DC.

“There are positive signs and there are negative signs,” he remarked going on to make the point that recently there was success with Raytheon on GPS but with “another” company on semiconducter fab, the export control regulations came in the way.

Nair, who is also the Chair of the Space Commission and Secretary in the Department of Space, denied having any formal relations with China in space programmes.

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“On a commercial basis Chinese space agencies use us. But otherwise we do not have any formal cooperation with China,” he said.

Nair also dimissed apprehensions that India’s military programmes could siphon off funds from the ISRO. “Right from its inception, ISRO has been working on the peaceful application of outer space. There can be no weaponisation of outer space. That has been our stand,” he added.

“As far as military programmes are concerned, we have another organisation, the DRDO. We are de-linked and there is no commonality,” Nair added.

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The ISRO chief is scheduled to meet senior officials of the Bush Administration, including the NASA administrator Michael Griffin, during his visit. Finetuning America’s involvement in India’s Moon mission “Chandrayan 1” will also be discussed.

Nair maintained that a probe of Mars by India is very much on the agenda but the details of what the Indian scientific community wants is under study.

“Our scientific community would like to see what new things we can find. It is not just for the sake of sending a probe to Mars. Yes, we have an agenda by 2012 we should have a Mars Mission,” he said.

Nair stressed that India’s space programme had proceeded with focus to harmonise technology for the benefit of the common man.

First published on: 01-02-2008 at 01:19:11 am
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