US and India set to make space pact

by Chris Bergin

The United States could enter into a powerful space pact with India as soon as next month, with President Bush heading to New Delhi for talks that will include the lifting of a ban on sharing space technology.

India’s support for the War on Terror have warmed relations between the two countries since Washington imposed sanctions on New Delhi, following nuclear tests in 1998.

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A pact would begin with the signing of a space cooperation deal to allow India to commercially launch satellites with US components. It could lead to an agreement on cooperation between the two countries on NASA’s Vision for Space Exploration.

Such a deal would prove to be a serious move towards bringing in nations who have the expertise, but lack the experience. It would also deal a blow to China’s ambitions of beating the US to Mars. China have been courting the Indians for some time now.

Chairman of the ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation), G. Madhavan Nair, is aiming for a boost for its satellite launch business as a foundation for expanding their space ambitions.

‘From one satellite a year, if we could launch 2-3 satellites every year it would mean substantial growth,’ Nair said to Reuters. ‘We expect revenues from satellite launches and transponder services to at least double in two years.

‘We are looking at making $60-70 million a year from satellite launches.’

Last July a deal was brokered between the US and India on boosting ties in regards to space exploration, but a high profile meeting between Bush and Indian officials would take their cooperation forward a leap.

Already cited as a major player in the satellite launch business in the future by The Teal Group Corporation – an analysis of trends within the aerospace/defense market, India is hoping to eventually capture 10 percent of the global launch market.

‘We could build a satellite, launch it and give it to them in orbit,’ added Nair, projecting how he expects nations to see India as a player in the launch market in the years to come.

While lacking experience, India hopes to utilise its cheap costs and large scientific community in attracting new business. A successful establishment of regular launch services could then be the foundation for exploration ambitions.

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