India, US ties in space navigation on anvil
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India, US ties in space navigation on anvil

Monday, 28 June 2004, 07:00 Hrs
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BANGALORE: Indian and US civil aviation authorities are considering using the Global Positioning System (GPS) as a building block for the global air navigation network of the future, a US space official here said.

US deputy assistant secretary for space and science Lee Morin said the US officials would soon discuss with their Indian counterparts the setting up of a consultative mechanism to promote cooperation in the use of GPS.

The discussions, which are part of the on-going space cooperation between the two countries, will also cover the use of other satellite navigation systems such as Europe's planned Galileo system and India's proposed Gagan system.

"The US is signing an agreement with Europe on GPS and the proposed Galileo system in which India has expressed readiness to participate.

"We are also aware India is using GPS extensively for surveying, precision agriculture and environmental monitoring," Morin told IANS on the sidelines of the first Indo-US space summit that concluded Friday.

Hailing India's proud place in a small elite group of nations with state-of-the-art capabilities in remote sensing, space communications and space launch, Morin said the potential for space cooperation was immense in view of commonalities, barring some differences, between the two.

There is a need to lay the groundwork for a new era of space ties at the government and industry levels in the civil space sector, he said.

"There is need to elaborate on the impressive accomplishments of NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) and Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) over the years. Time has come to commercialise our national space activities.

A commercial space industry is beginning to take off in India, signalling a bright future. Commercial ties between the US and aerospace firms are not yet strong owing to policy differences at the government level for many years, precluding industry-to-industry cooperation all along," the astronaut-turned-official stated.

Referring to the India-US role in combining information from space-based sensors with other information technologies to support economic development objectives, Morin said the US had unveiled in 2002 its Geographic Information for Sustainable Development (GISD) initiative.

"Our endeavour is to make geographic information available in user-friendly formats to decision-makers to address sustainable development issues from desertification to urban sprawl.

Though the initial focus of GISD is on Africa, we plan to extend it to other parts of the world, especially Asia," Morin disclosed.

In this context, Morin lauded India for its leadership role in the Global Spatial Data Infrastructure (GSDI) initiative, a seven-year-old international effort to promote cooperation in the construction of national spatial data infrastructure the world over.

Morin also projected greater cooperation between the two countries in earth observation, using the remote sensing data of ISRO's series of Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) satellites, including Resourcesat-1.

"The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will be promoting the Global Earth Observation System (GEOS), in which ISRO will have a leadership role.

"Drought condition assessment, watershed preservation, agricultural output prediction and natural disaster mitigation are a few of the dozens of applications for space-based earth observations systems that will be of great importance to both countries," Morin pointed out.

He also advocated combined efforts to design new and better space-based rural extension programs for use not only in India, but also all over South Asia, especially in the areas of tele-education, tele-medicine or other space applications tailored to promote rural development.

Referring to India's ambitious lunar mission (Chandrayan-1), Morin said the India-US space collaboration could extend to a series of robotic missions to Moon, setting up of a lunar base and eventually human missions to Mars.

"We note with great interest ISRO's upcoming lunar mission. We need to consider whether the US and India could collaborate in such projects, including planetary missions and astronomy satellites in the future," Morin affirmed.

A mission specialist with NASA, Morin piloted the STS-110 Atlantis on April 8-19, 2002, to visit the International Space Station (ISS).

On the 13th space shuttle mission, he performed 2 EVAs or spacewalk totalling 14 hours and nine minutes, preparing the ISS for future spacewalk and spent a week in joint operations with the station's Expedition-4 crew.




Source: IANS
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