India is a leader in space, says NASA chief Nelson

New Delhi: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) administrator Bill Nelson has said that the United States is open to helping India build its own space station. During his visit to India, he revealed that both India and the U.S. are planning to send an astronaut to the International Space Station by the end of 2024.


Nelson said that the U.S. is ready to collaborate with India in building the space station it wants. “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,” he said.


Notably, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) to aim to build an Indian space station by 2035 and send astronauts to the moon by 2040.


Nelson urged Indian Minister for Space Dr Jitendra Singh to speed up the program for sending India’s first astronaut aboard a NASA rocket to the International Space Station. As for training an astronaut, Nelson told the media, “The selection of astronauts is determined by ISRO. NASA will not make the selection”.


Currently, NASA and ISRO are set to launch a state-of-the-art joint venture satellite — NISAR — in the first quarter of 2024. The data collected by NISAR will be used for studying the land ecosystems, deformation of solid earth, mountain and polar cryo-sphere, sea ice and coastal oceans on a regional to global scale.


In a post, Nelson wrote, “Touchdown in India! Ready to embark on a week of engaging meetings and events to grow NASA’s partnership with ISRO. India is a leader in space, and we’re looking forward to a productive visit.”


Nelson also met with Indian Minister for Department of Space Dr. Jitendra Singh to discuss cooperation between the two countries in the space sector.


As per an official statement from the Indian science and technology ministry, “ISRO is also exploring the feasibility of utilizing NASA’s Hypervelocity Impact Test (HVIT) facility for testing Gaganyaan module Micrometeoroid and orbital debris (MMOD) protection shields.”

Image courtesy of The Hindu