As an acknowledgement of India's status as a growing space-faring nation, it is now amply evident that western powers are keen on this country's participation in the International Space Station (ISS). Proof of this came from a recent statement of the space attache in French Embassy in Washington, Emmanuel de Lipkowski, who said: ``If we are able to build strong transatlantic co-operation from the frontier of Europe to Japan, we will be able to speak strongly and efficiently in front of the Chinese as well as in front of the Indians.''
De Lipkowski, also a representative of the French space agency, CNES, has expressed the need for co-operation with India. The issue came up when Jeff Foust, of the well known space website, ``The Space Review'' attended a panel discussion on October 15 organised by the Washington-based Centre For Strategic and International Studies.
His statement about India assumes significance in the context of a string of space successes by this country especially the scientific accomplishments of Chandrayaan-1. During the just-concluded International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Prague, representatives of space agencies expressed the need for India and China to become partners of the ISS because of their stature.
For years India has been exploring the possibility of joining the ISS and at one stage senior Isro officials said that a firm decision will be taken after the scientists plan experiments. But, a variety of factors prevented the project from taking off. And Isro chairman, K.Radhakrishnan, said at the IAC that India has no plans to join the ISS.
Joining the ISS, though would be something prestigious and provide a boost to India's human space flight programme, would however mean financial committments which India can ill afford at this point. Also it could also raise issues relating to foreign policy. Therefore any final decision regarding India's participation in the ISS would also bring the Ministry of External Affairs into the picture.
The ISS will continue operating till 2020, and the move has been welcomed by those nations which have partnered with it. Representative of the Japanese space agency, Jaxa, told the Washington meeting that his country has welcomed the extention of the ISS till 2020 ``because of the importance of the ISS to the country's space plans.'' A PPT presentation by Jaxa has shown that apart from a manned mission to the moon, a human landing on Mars was also on its cards.
Representative of the European Space Agency said that ways have to be found to reduce the operational costs of the ISS. Lipkowski said that the ISS has to prove its efficiency. ``If we can prove it we can go further, if we don't, it will be a white elephant,'' he said.
Interesting news: Nasa's mission to Pluto, ``New Horizons,'' crossed the halfway mark on October 17 around 9 a.m. (IST) passing the halfway mark in the number of days from the launch on January 19,2006, to its encounter with Pluto on July 14, 2015. In about 10 years it would have covered more than three billion miles.
Wish u a great journey New Horizons!