Space tech cooperation on agenda

India's first Mars Orbit mission this year offers an "exciting opportunity" for Indo-US collaboration in the field of space technology.

Since the two sides are keen on increasing commercial space cooperation and create opportunities for the US and Indian companies, this would be on the agenda of discussions between the two countries when US vice-president Joe Biden begins India visit on Monday.

Building on the highly successful Chandrayaan-1 lunar mission, the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) have agreed to explore further cooperation in such fields as planetary science and heliophysics, as well as potential future missions to the moon and Mars.

Infact, Nasa is providing deep space navigation and tracking support services to the Mars mission scheduled for October-November during the non-visible period of the Indian Deep Space Network.

According to analysts, the US-India space cooperation is sure to benefit those beyond the borders of both respective nations.

"Collaboration between India and the US into the sphere of deep space exploration would fuse talented agencies and experts in both nations to a degree not previously seen. Through this partnership, new discoveries and accelerated progress are certain which will in turn serve to assist researchers in all spacefaring states," observed Boston-based foreign affairs and strategic policy expert Matthew Hoey. "US-India relations have been generally disappointing since the civil-nuclear deal. Despite the great efforts by the Bush administration, the deal did not produce tangible benefits. Cooperation on space science and exploration is one area where we can pick up the pace," observed Michael Krepon, Co-founder, The Stimson Center, Washington DC.

With the removal of Isro subordinate entities from the US Entity List at the 2011 Civil Space Joint Working Group meeting and additional measures taken since have further expanded the possibilities for trade and cooperation in civil space. The India-US space cooperation has become a signature aspect of this science, technology, and innovation cooperation, highlighting both the constancy of their mutual respect and appreciation for each other's capabilities through the decades, as well as the vast potential.

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