Biden White House: US Will Train Indian Astronauts, Cooperate On Planetary Defense
WASHINGTON, DC (IANS) – The US will provide advanced training for an Indian astronaut and the two countries will cooperate on planetary defense against dangerous asteroids and comets, according to the White House.
Strengthening cooperation in human space flight through an exchange that includes advanced training for an Indian astronaut at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX, was among the initiatives launched at the inaugural meeting of the US-India initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology (iCET) here on February 1, the White House said.
National Security Advisers (NSA) Ajit Doval of India and Jake Sullivan of the US led the iCET meeting at which space, scientific, defense and commerce officials participated.
Another initiative at the iCET meeting was to include planetary defense in the agenda of the US-India Civil Space Joint Working Group, according to the White House.
The US planetary defense program monitors asteroids and comets to identify those that can potentially cause harm to the earth and issue warnings and develop actions to mitigate their effect.
Cooperation with the US on manned space flight would be a departure for India, which has so far relied on the Soviet Union and, after its dissolution, with Russia.
India, which plans to send astronauts as early as next year on board the Gaganyaan spacecraft, has been training four astronauts in Russia under an agreement with that country’s Glavkosmos organization.
While astronauts from several countries, including Saudi Arabia, have flown on NASA space missions, none from India have.
The only Indian citizen to have been in outer space is Rakesh Sharma, a former Air Force pilot who flew on a Soviet Soyuz mission in 1984.
Other initiatives from the iCET meeting, according to the White House, include strengthening bilateral commercial space partnerships through the US Commerce Department and the Indian Department of Space.