Ahead of Modi’s US visit, Nasa wants India to join lunar mission | India News

NEW DELHI: Days before PM Narendra Modi’s visit to the US from June 21 to 25, Nasa officials are increasingly talking about roping in India for Nasa’s Artemis Accords, which are an American-led effort to return humans to the Moon by 2025, with the ultimate goal of expanding space exploration to Mars and beyond.
A US space expert hoped that cooperation in the field of space would be one of the major areas of discussion between PM Modi and US President Joe Biden when they meet at the White House next week.
Bhavya Lal, the associate administrator for technology, policy and strategy within the office of the Nasa Administrator, recently said that as of now, there are 25 signatories to the Artemis Accords and hoped that India becomes the 26th country.
Lal, who did her schooling in Delhi before doing her bachelor’s and masters in nuclear engineering from MIT, previously served as the acting chief technologist of Nasa. She said India and the US needed to do more things together in the Artemis programme.
Mike Gold, US space expert and former associate administrator for space policy and partnerships at Nasa, said the “relationship between the US and India is absolutely critical on Earth, and possibly even more so in space”. He also described India as a “sleeping giant” for whom the sky is no longer the limit. Gold, who is considered an architect of the Artemis Accords, also urged India to join the US’ lunar programme. He also hoped that Nasa would cooperate with Isro in its human space flight mission Gaganyaan, and that the International Space Station would become a destination for Indian astronauts.
In November 2022, the US kicked off its Artemis programme by launching the unmanned Orion spacecraft towards the Moon and bringing it safely back to Earth as a prelude to its manned lunar mission. Interestingly, India and the US earlier this year agreed to advance space collaboration in several areas, under the ‘initiative on critical and emerging technology’ (ICET) umbrella, including human space exploration and commercial space partnership.
If Modi and Biden discuss India joining Nasa’s Artemis programme and also cooperation in human space exploration, it will be a big boost to Isro’s space exploration projects. India is also on the verge of launching its Chandrayaan-3 mission and Aditya L-1 Sun mission in a few weeks.
Isro and Nasa have till now worked together on the $1.5 billion NISAR satellite project, the world’s most expensive earth observation satellite programme, which, once launched next year, will measure the Earth’s changing ecosystems, dynamic surfaces and ice sheet collapses. Nasa had also sent its payload to the Moon onboard India’s Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft that for the first time found evidence of water on the Moon.
The Artemis Accords were signed on October 13, 2020 by several countries. As of June 5, 2023, 25 countries and one territory have signed the accords, including 10 in Europe, seven in Asia, three in North America, two in Oceania, two in Africa, and two in South America. The Accords remain open for signature indefinitely, as Nasa anticipates other nations will join. Additional signatories can choose to directly participate in Artemis programme activities or may agree simply to commit to the principles for responsible exploration of the Moon that are set out in the accords.

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