New Delhi: Stepping up collaboration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) administrator Bill Nelson on Tuesday said the US was open to helping India build its own space station.
On a visit to India, Nelson said the US and India were working on plans to send an Indian astronaut to the International Space Station by the end of next year, while the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) will launch the state-of-the-art joint venture satellite with NASA — Nisar — in the first quarter of 2024.
Nelson met science and technology minister Jitendra Singh here and discussed strengthening cooperation between the two countries in the space sector.
“Isro is also exploring the feasibility of utilising NASA’s Hypervelocity Impact Test (HVIT) facility for testing Gaganyaan module Micrometeoroid and orbital debris (MMOD) protection shields,” an official statement from the science and technology ministry said.
In response to a question, Nelson said the US would be ready to collaborate with India in building the space station if it so desires. “We expect by that time to have a commercial space station. I think India wants to have a commercial space station by 2040. If India wants us to collaborate with them, of course, we will be available. But that’s up to India,” Nelson said.
Built at a cost of $1.5 billion, Nisar (NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar) is targeted for launch onboard India’s GSLV rocket. Data from Nisar will be highly suitable for studying the land ecosystems, deformation of solid earth, mountain and polar cryosphere, sea ice, and coastal oceans on a regional to global scale.
Isro has developed the S-band SAR which was integrated with NASA’s L-band SAR at JPL/NASA. The integrated L & S band SAR is currently undergoing testing with the satellite at the U R Rao Satellite Centre (URSC), Bengaluru with the participation of NASA/JPL officials.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked Isro to aim to build an Indian space station by 2035 and land astronauts on the moon by 2040.