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India Wants US To Lift Remaining Sanctions On Space Technology

India is ready to power up on the space technology side of things and needs US help to keep pace with China.
by Staff Writers
Bangalore, India (AFP) May 10, 2006
India's main space agency Tuesday urged the United States to lift sanctions that remain in force on three of its operations and thus enable more high-tech imports.

Madhavan Nair, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), said sanctions were still applied to its Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre and Liquid Propulsion Systems Center in Kerala state and the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Andhra Pradesh.

"As an effort between our prime minister and President George Bush three (other) institutions were removed from the list to enable import of more high-tech imports and services from the US," Nair said.

"I hope this will encourage an improvement in space commerce activity in the coming years," he said after India and the US signed a cooperative pact for carrying two US payloads on board India's Chandrayaan-1 unmanned mission to the moon.

"I can see that there is a willingness on both sides to improve this cooperation."

Space cooperation between the two dates back to 1963 when an atmospheric experiment was carried on a US-made rocket.

Relations have warmed markedly in recent years and Washington has lifted sanctions slapped on India's nuclear and space programmes following New Delhi's nuclear test blasts in 1998.

The sanctions had frozen exchanges in nuclear and other high-tech sectors such as technology with both civilian and military use.

During the March visit of US President George W. Bush, a landmark civilian nuclear deal was sealed.

India agreed to place most of its civilian atomic reactors under global scrutiny for the first time in more than three decades in return for foreign nuclear technology.

The agreement effectively ends India's status as a nuclear pariah, even though it refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) chief Michael Griffin, the first NASA official to visit India in 30 years, said the Bush visit "to resolve nuclear proliferation issues had contributed to future cooperation possibilities."

Under the pact signed Tuesday India will carry two US scientific payloads on its planned Chandrayaan-1 moon mission.

The United States will place a miniature synthetic aperture radar to map the cold regions and a moon "minerology mapper," Griffin said.

The radar will scan for ice deposits while the mapper will track the mineral and chemical composition of the moon.

Chandrayaan-1, slated for launch by early 2008, will also carry five Indian instruments along with three developed by the European Space Agency and one from the Bulgarian Space Laboratory.

Griffin said both nations would ensure they do not "duplicate" their efforts and end up spending money on the same projects.

"We are also looking at sharing of data for earth sciences and earth resources surfaces and broader scientific cooperation in exploring beyond the earth," he said.

India received 16 proposals from around the world to be a part of the moon mission.

"Of these we selected six instruments including two from the US," ISRO chief Nair said. "Today is an important milestone in the cooperation between NASA and ISRO."

Source: Agence France-Presse

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