After Russia in 1984, it is now the US to fly Indian astronauts to space.
But this time the US will fly Indian astronauts to the International Space Station next year — much ahead of India’s own human space mission — Gaganyaan.
According to the joint statement issued by the US White House, the US President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Narendra Modi set a course to reach new frontiers across all sectors of space cooperation.
The leaders applauded our growing cooperation on earth and space science, and space technologies.
“They welcomed the decision of NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) and ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) to develop a strategic framework for human spaceflight cooperation by the end of 2023,” the statement said.
“The leaders hailed the announcement by NASA to provide advanced training to Indian astronauts at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, with a goal of mounting a joint effort to the International Space Station in 2024,” the statement notes.
It may be recalled that it was Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma who had travelled to space in a Russian rocket in 1984.
It will be interesting to know who from India will be travelling to the International Space Station on an American rocket.
Already four Indian Air Force (IAF) officials have undergone astronaut training in Russia as a part of India’s Gaganyaan programme.
Whether the same four will be considered for the US-Indo space programme or a different set of people is not known.
Be that as it may, the other Indo-US joint space programme NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) — an earth observation satellite — will be orbited by an Indian rocket next year from the Sriharikota rocket port in Andhra Pradesh.
The NISAR is an earth observation satellite jointly built by NASA and ISRO.
The satellite has already reached India from the US.
Modi and Biden called for enhanced commercial collaboration between the US and Indian private sectors in the entire value chain of the space economy and to address export controls and facilitate technology transfer.
“President Biden deeply appreciated India’s signing of the Artemis Accords, which advance a common vision of space exploration for the benefit of all humankind,” the White House statement said.