Space cooperation is expected to be on top of the agenda when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Washington during June 7-8. Both countries need to move past civil space collaboration to look at space security issues and global space governance; these two most important aspects of India-US space cooperation are likely to be a key part of discussions between Modi and US President Barack Obama.
Though the agenda is still being worked out and finalised, Modi is also expected to visit the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) during his visit and some new initiatives related to space cooperation between the two countries are likely to be announced.
Indian and American delegations had met earlier this year for exploring an arrangement for Space Situational Awareness (SSA) – a programme for monitoring space environment and tracking potential hazards and security threats.
Also, a bilateral mechanism for sharing satellites for Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA), which is hugely relevant in the backdrop of increasing number of maritime security issues, is being discussed, where Japan too has expressed interest.
“One potential area we are continuing to look at is cooperation on SSA and collision avoidance,” Frank A. Rose, assistant secretary in charge of Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance in the US State Department, said at a conference here. He led the US delegation in the second space security dialogue with India.
Supporting space cooperation with the US, Dr Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, head, Nuclear and Space Policy Initiative·, ORF, said, “Space has to be looked at as one more area for strengthening the broader strategic partnership between India and the US. India has done well on its own, cooperation with the US which has a huge number of technologies and applications that we can gain from. Deep space communication is one important area.”
“We need strong technological partners such as the US and Israel. For instance, ISRO was developing RISAT-1 indigenously, but the 2008 terror attacks provided the urgency to develop the synthetic aperture radar satellites for better surveillance and India decided to cooperate with Israel and we launched RISAT-2 before RISAT-1 was launched. Even then, we are not proficient. So, NISAR (NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar) satellite (cooperation with NASA) is quite important,” Rajagopalan added.