Bangalore: The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) will discuss with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) on Friday, about the US space agency’s role in India’s manned mission to space. Isro chairman G. Madhavan Nair will sign an agreement with Nasa administrator Michael Griffin on cooperation, exploration and the use of outer space for peaceful purposes even as India steps up its focus on the exploration of the solar system, beginning with an unmanned mission to the moon in April.
“This (agreement) is much broader. It includes exploration, aeronautics, everything that Nasa does,” said Michael Braukus, a spokesperson for Nasa in Washington.
Both space agencies had signed a bilateral framework agreement for cooperation in earth and atmospheric sciences in 1997, but this has been in cold storage after India’s nuclear tests in 1998. The agreement was revived in 2006.
Analysts say India has been one of the 14 countries discussing international collaboration in human missions to the moon and beyond. “It is likely that India will want to contribute to this global effort as it nurtures its own ambitions regarding human space flight,” said John M. Logsdon, director of the space policy institute at the George Washington University.
Isro plans to send two or three astronauts in a capsule that will be placed in orbit by a homegrown heavy GSLV rocket and expects to spend Rs10,000 crore on the mission. Though it has set a deadline of 2014 for this project, Isro is yet to get the government nod for the manned space flight programme.
Nair and Griffin will also discuss the possibility of having US instruments on India’s second unmanned mission to the moon, Chandrayaan-2, an Isro official, who did not want to be named, said.
Russia is already part of India’s second mission to the moon. The Russian space agency, Roskosmos, will build a rover—a robot that travels on the moon’s surface—for the Chandrayaan-2 mission, planned for 2012.
“We will be very open to the idea to cooperate with India in the human space flight or our efforts beyond the space station, which could be again taking people back to the moon and establishing a research station,” Griffin had said in an interview in September.
“The Indian government has not made specific proposals on those lines. I hope that happens,” he had said.
Remote-sensing instruments from American institutes—the Johns Hopkins University, the Jet Propulsion Lab and the Brown University—will be on board Chandrayaan-1, the first moon?mission?planned?in?April.