In a significant stride towards international collaboration in space exploration, NASA has announced its involvement in the training of two Indian astronauts, with one scheduled to embark on a week-long journey to the International Space Station (ISS) in late 2024. The revelation came from NASA Administrator Bill Nelson during his ongoing week-long tour across multiple cities in India, where he is engaging with political leaders and officials from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to enhance the collaborative efforts between the two space agencies.
The partnership between NASA and ISRO extends beyond this upcoming mission, encompassing shared initiatives in planetary defense and collaborative efforts related to the ISS. Both agencies had previously committed to working together on future space projects, solidifying their commitment to advancing scientific exploration.
During a meeting in New Delhi this week, Bill Nelson extended congratulations to Jitendra Singh, the Deputy Minister for Science and Technology, commending India's successful Chandrayaan-3 mission, which made a historic touchdown near the moon's south pole a few months ago. NASA is now eagerly awaiting approval from ISRO to commence the training of the selected astronauts.
Speaking to NDTV, Nelson shared the timeline for the ambitious endeavor, stating, "It would be a year from now, at the end of 2024, that the Indian astronaut would go to the space station, probably for two weeks. During this mission, they will conduct scientific experiments of significant importance to India."
Earlier, Nelson also met with Rakesh Sharma, the trailblazing astronaut who became the first Indian citizen to journey into low-Earth orbit in 1984 during a week-long mission to the Soviet Union's Salyut 7 space station. Looking ahead to the future, ISRO Chairman S. Somanath revealed plans to select four astronauts for their next space venture, with all four receiving overseas training, and two shortlisted candidates undergoing training at NASA.
While details remain unclear about whether the astronauts will also receive training for moon landing missions, which India aspires to achieve by 2040, the collaborative spirit between NASA and ISRO continues to flourish. Both agencies are set to jointly launch the NISAR Earth observation satellite early next year, reinforcing the importance of their partnership in advancing space exploration.
"It's important that we do this as partners," emphasised Nelson, underlining the significance of international collaboration in pushing the boundaries of scientific discovery and space exploration.
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