India, US begin new era in space cooperation

Tuesday, 22 June 2004, 07:00 Hrs
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BANGALORE: India and the United States Monday resolved to deepen their cooperation in efforts to harness space for development, with New Delhi seeking a strategic partnership in civilian space commerce.

Setting the tone for the new era in cooperation, India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said such a partnership would have to be based on mutual trust and it could provide wide-ranging commercial opportunities for both nations.

In a message to the first "Indo-United States Conference on Space Science, Applications and Commerce", which got underway here Monday, Singh said both countries recognised there was vast scope for bilateral hi-tech commerce, including civilian space commerce.

"While our two governments take steps to create the right environment for successful high technology commerce, I look forward to this conference in identifying and generating an awareness of market opportunities," said Singh's message, which was read out by Prithviraj D. Chavan, minister of state in the Prime Minister's Office.

In his message to the conference, US President George W. Bush called on the participants from both countries to identify new opportunities for civil space cooperation to answer scientific questions, improve the quality of life for others and inspire the next generation to explore the universe.

"India and the US share a history of over four decades of cooperation in space. Our risk-takers and visionaries have expanded human knowledge, revolutionised understanding of the universe and produced technological advances that have benefited all of humanity," Bush said in his message, which was read by US Ambassador David C. Mulford.

In his address, Mulford said the conference was being held as part of the strategic partnership initiated by Bush to expand cooperation in civilian nuclear, civilian space, hi-tech trade and missile defence.

"Implementing cooperation in these areas poses complex problems. Progress will entail understandings involving the handling of complex technologies. With goodwill and trust, we can move forward," Mulford said.

Admitting that collaboration in hi-tech areas and space science between the two countries slowed down in the 1990s due to political and economic factors, Mulford said the US was seeking to re-energise the cooperation, building on past trust and achievements to realise the vision set by the present leadership.

"Gatherings such as this conference offer us a means to move forward. Upcoming meetings on cyber security and civilian nuclear power safety will provide additional opportunities for experts to identify areas of collaboration and address impediments that kept our hi-tech cooperation from realising its earlier promise," Mulford noted.

The US envoy said the task ahead required sustained leadership on both sides and the support of private sectors and scientific communities in both countries.

"Let us give each other 'space' - both figuratively and literally - to resolve that this conference will mark a renewal of our collaboration in science and space so that 40 years from now, we will see the next era of space collaboration between the two countries began right here in Bangalore," Mulford said.

Delivering the inaugural address, Chavan told about 550 delegates the technical capabilities of both countries could form the basis for joint collaboration in space science, applications and commercial activities.

"We are enthused by the new vision of space unveiled by Bush. We hope space agencies of our two nations can collaborate in future missions and bring about a synergistic harmony in research and technological growth of each other's space programmes," he said.

In his address, Indian Space Research Organization chairman G. Madhavan Nair said scientific exploration of outer space offered good opportunities for international participation.

"Indian and US scientists can join forces and collaborate in space programmes and applications for the common good of both countries. Commercial ventures can be made profitable by sharing the knowledge, experience, products and services," he said.

Besides US Under Secretary of Commerce Kenneth Juster, National Aeronautics and Space Administration Associate Administrator Frederick D. Gregory and S.K. Das, additional secretary in the Indian department of space too spoke on the occasion.

Source: IANS
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