US space agency NASA will train an Indian astronaut for a mission to the International Space Station by the end of 2024, said the organisation’s administrator Bill Nelson during his Delhi visit. Terming India as a “great future partner”, Nelson said that US would be open to collaborate on an Indian Space Station. The Prime Minister called on Isro scientists to set up an Indian Space Station by 2035 and send an Indian to the moon by 2040.
“We are going to de-orbit our space station in 2031. We expect by that time to have commercial space stations. If India wants us to counsel or collaborate with them, of course we would be willing to,” he said. Nelson said another major programme emerging from India-US collaboration would be the NISAR satellite to be launched in the first quarter of 2024.
“It was part of the agreement …. that NASA will help train an Indian astronaut and that astronaut will fly to the International Space Station at the end of 2024,” said Nelson, adding that the astronaut would be selected by Isro. The selection will likely be from among the four persons who have undergone basic space astronaut training in preparation for the Gaganyaan mission. The science objectives for the two-week long mission will be decided by India.
“I just had a discussion with the minister of science on what the Indian astronaut would do on the Space Station. Things that are important to India in scientific research, the Indian astronaut ought to have the choice to do that,” Nelson said.
A statement from the department of space — after a meeting between Nelson and Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh — said a joint working group of both the space agencies were exploring collaborating on radiation impact studies, micro meteorite and orbital debris shield studies, space health and medicine aspects.
An implementing arrangement for ISRO-NASA collaborations haves been agreed upon and is in the process of inter-government approvals.