Wednesday, November 24, 2010

India does it again

         Once again India has made its presence felt on the stars. And that too stars from different countries. This starry gathering (pl do not misunderstand it for either bollywood or hollywood)--far from it--was in Washington on November 17,2010. The occasion was the prestigious meeting of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA)  to mark the 50th year of the organisation.

        The one day international space meet saw the presence of 30 heads of space agencies, 500 academicians, world leaders and experts, India was represented in all the four groups--human space flight, robotic planetary exploration, disaster management and climate change. It was the heads of space agencies summit.

        None other than G.Madhavan Nair, former Isro chief, is in the commander's seat of the IAA--he is its  president. Nair arrived in Mumbai on Tuesday night from Washington after the attending the conference, and attempts to reach him immediately failed because ``Beyond Moon and Mars (BMM), forgot to take his mobile for a dinner meeting. But BMM managed to reach him at Mumbai airport early on Wednesday morning when Nair was boarding a flight for Bangalore and speak to him for a few minutes.

        A point of signficance was that India had played a key role in framing the final reports relating to all the four groups. This according to him was nothing, but a clear endorsement of India's status as an emerging space power.

        Since the human space flight document had emphasised about the importance of the 17-member International Space Station (ISS), Nair said the IAA will play a catalystic role in making India a part of the space station. ``Though we cannot play an executor's role, we will lobby with the government regarding the advantage of India becoming a part of the ISS,'' he said. He recalled the US deputy secretary of state, James Steinberg, who represented secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, at the conference welcomed more countries participating in the ISS, especially India.

        A conference document states: ``Just as Russia joining the International Space Station was a powerful symbol of the end of the Cold War, so too would be the joining of China, India and others with the ISS partners in a co-operative effort to explore the moon, near earth objects and Mars, be a powerful symbol of hope for the 21st century.''

       Remember what present Isro chairman, K.Radhakrishnan had said on September 27,2010 at the International Astronautical Congress in Prague?--There were no plans of India joining the ISS. It was an evolving process.'' What happened during the visit of President Barack Obama to India? He and PM Manmohan Singh issued a joint statement on November 7,2010 and one of the points was that India and the US will continue discussions regarding this country joining the ISS! When this contridiction was mentioned in The Times of India by BMM, Radhakrishnan got upset!

       The conference declaration states that ``human mission to mars are the long term goal of space exploration. Keeping this in view IAA has recommended continuing to support the work of the International Space Exploration Co-ordination Group which is formulating plans for global space exploration efforts.''

      Some of the other points of the space summit declaration:-

      * Acknowledge the need of maintaining human space  exploration in low earth orbit, and of extending it in a stepwise approach to those destinations where humans may one day live and work eg moon and near earth objects, building on carefully planned series of robotic precursor missions.

     * Recognise the importance of the International Space Station as an integral part of the exploration initiative and its utilisation for the benefit of all mankind.

     * Stress the importance of co-ordinating research on human factors in preparation for space missions beyond LEO (low earth orbit). LEO extends upto 2000 kms.

     * Acknowledge thce need to define an integrated public engagement plan to support a sustainable human exploration programme.

     * Invite new and emerging space faring nations to co-operate on human space flight activities in view of the benefits involved and in order to ensure that this becomes a global endeavour.

      It says:  ``The development of new capabilities of rising space powers like India and China will allow a global exploration programme with higher frequency and diversity of human exploration missions''

      The report says that ``Recent technological studies on human space flight scenarios have led to a proposal to the Indian government for a first manned mission in the 2016 time frame and an ambitious programme of human space flight to follow. The government has not yet accepted the proposal,'' it says.

      Nair said that while the government has approved the design and development of a man rated space capsule for the human spaceflight mission,t, Isro is awaiting the green signal in certain other areas connected with this project,

      Asked what is meant by ``ambitious programme of human spaceflight to follow,'' Nair said that conceptual studies were in progress for a manned mission to the moon and Mars by India around 2025. ``We have the capability,'' he added


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