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June 29, 2024

NASA and ISRO Strengthen Space Collaboration Through iCET Initiative: Bill Nelson

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson has announced the expansion of space collaboration between India and the United States, emphasizing the advancement of the Critical and Emerging Technology (iCET) initiative for the benefit of humanity. This announcement highlights the ongoing efforts of both nations to strengthen their partnership in space exploration, including a historic joint mission aboard the International Space Station (ISS) featuring an ISRO astronaut.

During his recent statement on the social media platform X, Nelson underscored the importance of the iCET initiative, reflecting on his visit to India last year. He noted that NASA is committed to furthering the United States and India’s collaboration in space. “Building on my visit to India last year, NASA continues to further the United States and India initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology for the benefit of humanity. Together we are expanding our countries’ collaboration in space, to include a joint effort aboard the International Space Station with an ISRO astronaut. While specific details about the mission are still in work, these efforts will support future human spaceflight and improve life here on Earth,” Nelson posted.

Nelson’s visit to India last year included multiple meetings and interactions, where he praised India’s achievements, notably the success of the Chandrayaan-3 mission. This mission showcased India’s growing capabilities in space exploration and technology.

Recently, the second meeting of the US-India iCET initiative took place in New Delhi, featuring key participants like India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and US NSA Jake Sullivan. A significant outcome of this meeting was the conclusion of the Strategic Framework for Human Spaceflight Cooperation, aimed at enhancing interoperability between the two countries’ space programs. This framework is a crucial step toward advanced training for ISRO astronauts at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

In an unprecedented move, NASA will train two Indian astronauts, with one set to embark on a mission to the ISS later this year. ISRO Chairman S Somanath has indicated that four astronauts are likely to be selected for this training, marking the first-ever joint effort between NASA and ISRO astronauts aboard the ISS. This collaboration signifies a major milestone in the India-US space partnership and opens new avenues for space exploration.

Moreover, the two countries are gearing up for the launch of the NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) satellite. This jointly developed satellite is set to map the Earth’s surface twice every 12 days, providing critical data to address global challenges such as climate change. NISAR will be the first radar imaging satellite to utilize dual frequencies, allowing it to survey all of Earth’s land and ice-covered surfaces with unprecedented detail. The mission aims to observe complex natural processes, including ecosystem disturbances, ice-sheet collapse, earthquakes, volcanoes, and landslides, over its three-year duration.

Additionally, India and the US are exploring opportunities for participation in the Lunar Gateway Programme. This program represents a significant advancement in human space exploration, offering a versatile platform for lunar surface missions, scientific research, and preparation for future deep-space endeavors. The Lunar Gateway, spearheaded by the US, promises to enhance human space exploration capabilities and foster international collaboration.

In summary, the ongoing initiatives between NASA and ISRO under the iCET framework highlight a deepening partnership aimed at leveraging space technology for the benefit of humanity. From training astronauts for ISS missions to launching the NISAR satellite and exploring the Lunar Gateway, these collaborative efforts underscore the commitment of both nations to advance human spaceflight and address critical global challenges through cutting-edge space technology.

Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri

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