Saturday, July 14, 2012
NASA praises ISRO, offers training for Indian astronauts.
This bold, forward looking and friendly announcement was made by the top man at NASA, Charles F Bolden, when speaking at Europe's largest science meeting the Euro Science Open Forum being held in Dublin, Ireland where over 4000 scientists are participating.
On being asked by NDTV, Bolden replied, 'We are encouraged by India's space program, which is oriented towards meeting India's needs of Earth observation, adding that 'India also hopes to have a human space program soon.'
Taking it further he said, the American's have the best training facilities for an astronaut program at the Kennedy Space Centre and emphasized that he was keen to make these available to Indians for training its astronauts.
This is important as India is already in the throes of planning to launch its astronauts largely in an effort to catch up with China which has had an astronaut program for more than a decade.
The Indian Space Research Organization has already submitted a proposal to the government for launching human space program that would cost Rs. 12,500 crores. Its chairman Dr K Radhakrishnan told NDTV, ISRO can undertake putting first ever Indians into space from Indian soil using Indian rockets in less than 7 years after the government gives them a go ahead to launch the program. Already the government has allocated about Rs. 200 crores for the making of the detailed plan and understanding the technologies that might be needed to undertake this mammoth exercise.
ISRO has already planned to have a third launch complex at its space port Sriharikota that will cater mainly to the human space flights. India's larger rocket the Geo-synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV Mk III) is the preferred rocket for this mission and it is already under advanced stages of development with a first flight planned within a year.
If it happens, India will become the fourth nation in the world to have indigenous capabilities to put humans in space, after Russia, US and China.
Experts say now that the technology denial regime has been lifted from ISRO and the sanctions are a thing of the past it may well be in the interest of both India and US to launch joint space program as international collaboration is the best forward as Bolden says 'a win-win for everybody'.