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India, US begin talks to send Indian astronaut to ISS next year


International Space Station. (An internet photo)

NEW DELHI (PTI): India and the US on Friday said they have started talks to put in place a strategic framework for human space flight by year-end as they plan to send an Indian astronaut to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2024.

US President Joe Biden also congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the historic landing of Chandrayaan-3 at the south polar region of the Moon and the success of Aditya-L1 solar mission.

"Determined to deepen our partnership in outer space exploration, ISRO and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have commenced discussions on modalities, capacity building, and training for mounting a joint effort to the International Space Station in 2024, and are continuing efforts to finalise a strategic framework for human space flight cooperation by the end of 2023," said a joint statement issued after the 52-minute talks between the two leaders on Friday, Sept 8, 2023.

During PM Modi's visit to the US in June, President Biden had announced India and the US were collaborating to send an astronaut to the International Space Station in 2024.

On Friday evening, Biden drove to Modi's official residence at the Lok Kalyan Marg soon after his arrival at the airport in New Delhi.

"India and the United States also intend to increase coordination on planetary defence to protect planet Earth and space assets from the impact of asteroids and near-Earth objects, including US support for India's participation in asteroid detection and tracking via the Minor Planet Center," the joint statement said.

"Having set a course to reach new frontiers across all sectors of space cooperation, the leaders welcomed efforts towards establishment of a Working Group for commercial space collaboration under the existing India-US Civil Space Joint Working Group," the joint statement said.

It said the US reiterated its commitment to working together with India in the quantum domain, both bilaterally and through the Quantum Entanglement Exchange, a platform to facilitate international quantum exchange opportunities.

The two leaders welcomed the participation of S N Bose National Centre for Basic Sciences as a member of the Quantum Economic Development Consortium.

It was also recognised that the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay joined the Chicago Quantum Exchange as an international partner.

Sharing a vision of secure and trusted telecommunications, resilient supply chains, and global digital inclusion, Modi and Biden welcomed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Bharat 6G Alliance and Next G Alliance, operated by Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions, as a first step towards deepening public-private cooperation between vendors and operators.

They further acknowledged the setting up of two Joint Task Forces focused on collaboration in the field of Open RAN and research and development in 5G/6G technologies, the joint statement said.

"A 5G Open RAN pilot in a leading Indian telecom operator will be undertaken by a US Open RAN manufacturer before field deployment. The leaders continue to look forward to the participation of Indian companies in the U.S. Rip and Replace Program," it said, adding that Biden also welcomed India's support for a Rip and Replace pilot in the United States.

The two leaders hailed the signing of an Implementation Arrangement between the US National Science Foundation (NSF) and Department of Biotechnology to enable scientific and technological research collaborations in biotechnology and biomanufacturing innovations.

They welcomed the call for proposals released by NSF and Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to foster academic and industrial collaboration in semiconductor research, next generation communication systems, cyber-security, sustainability and green technologies, and intelligent transportation systems.

Reaffirming their commitment to building resilient technology value chains and linking defence industrial ecosystems, the leaders recommitted their administrations to promoting policies and adapting regulations that facilitate greater technology sharing, co-development, and co-production opportunities between Indian and US industry, government and academic institutions.

They also welcomed continued engagement through an inter-agency monitoring mechanism under the auspices of the bilateral Strategic Trade Dialogue, launched in June 2023.

The two leaders welcomed the signing of an MoU between Indian universities, represented by the Council of Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT Council), and the Association of American Universities (AAU) to establish the India-US Global Challenges Institute, with a combined initial commitment of at least USD 10 million.

The Global Challenges Institute will bring together leading research and higher-education institutions from across the two nations, including beyond AAU and IIT membership, to advance new frontiers in science and technology, spanning collaboration in sustainable energy and agriculture, health and pandemic preparedness, semiconductor technology and manufacturing, advanced materials, telecommunications, artificial intelligence, and quantum science, the statement said.

The leaders also welcomed the growing number of multi-institutional collaborative education partnerships, such as those between New York University-Tandon and IIT Kanpur Advanced Research Center, and the Joint Research Centers of the State University of New York at Buffalo and IIT Delhi, Kanpur, Jodhpur, and BHU, in the areas of critical and emerging technologies.

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