The first space travel by an Indian citizen to space after Rakesh Sharma’s pioneering journey in 1984 is likely to occur as early as next year. The United States of America (USA) will help train and send an Indian astronaut to the International Space Station (ISS) by the end of 2024, said Bill Nelson, the NASA administrator, on November 28, 2023.
Selection of Astronauts
The selection of the astronaut will be done by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), and NASA will not be a part of it. “Details of the mission are being worked on by ISRO,” said Nelson who is on a multi-city visit to India to enhance Indo-US Space cooperation.
India-US Space Cooperation
“India is a great partner of the US and also as a great future partner for the activities of astronauts in space. The US will launch several private landers on the south pole of the Moon next year. But the fact that India was the first to land there, it deserves congratulations,” the NASA chief said. Nelson led a high-level US delegation that called on space minister Jitendra Singh and congratulated him for the successful landing of the Chandrayaan-3 Mission.
The NASA administrator said that the us was also ready to help India and collaborate with it in building the first space station of the country if it so desires. “I think India wants to have a commercial space station by 2040.
If India wants to collaborate with us then we are always welcome. But that is upto India. Additionally, it is ready to send an international planetary mission to space with India, but it all depends on ISRO. He urged Jitendra Singh to expedite the programme related to sending India’s first astronaut to aboard rocket to the International Space Station (ISS)
NASA is also identifying ana opportunity in private for astronaut missions for Indian astronauts. Nelson who is also scheduled to visit Mumbai for a meeting with business leaders in space sector, took forward the talks that PM Modi and US President Joe Biden had earlier agreed this year to launch a two-week joint India-US Space Flight next year.
‘On the Indo-US collaboration the NASA Chief said “We are doing a lot of science together. India, in a joint venture with the US will launch the most expensive NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) in the first quarter of next year.
The cost of the entire satellite is one billion dollars. NISAR will look at the surface of the earth and its climate It will measure any changed in the surface be it land or water, on any movement in icy mass. This will be very important information to us as the NISAR will give a three-dimensional model and tell us exactly what is going to happen on this planet.
About the NASA Administrator
Nelson who is the 14th NASA Administrator is a former senator from Florida and flew to space on board the Colombia Shuttle thirty-eight years ago. I saw India twice earlier. The first time when I saw India from space, then entire country. I saw Sri Lanka first and as I moved my eyes upward, I could see the entire India. Then I saw the Himalayas at the top of the country that looked like heaven,” he said.
Meeting Rakesh Sharma
On his excitement to meet cosmonaut Rakesh Sharma, the Nasa chief said, “I am going to Bengaluru tomorrow and I have the pleasure to meet my ‘old friend’ Rakesh. I met Rakesh in April 1991 before the Soviet Union broke apart. Rakesh and I hit it out. I have spoken to him over the phone several times,” the Nasa chief said.
On India signing the Artemis Accord, Nelson said, “Till now, 32 nations have signed the accord for peaceful use of space. It will help maintain safety (space assets), come to the rescue of each other, peaceful purposes in space, respect each other’s activities in space and not interfere.”