U.S.-India Civil Space Joint Working Group
The U.S.-India Civil Space Joint Working Group (CSJWG) held its fourth meeting in Washington, D.C., on March 21, 2013. At the opening of the meeting NASA Administrator Charles Bolden highlighted the impressive growth of U.S.-India cooperation on a range of cutting edge projects from deep space exploration to the use of Earth observing satellites to promote sustainable development.
Building upon the visit by Prime Minister Singh to the United States in 2009, and the visit by President Obama to India in 2010, Indian Ambassador Rao stated that the Civil Space Joint Working Group is a vital pillar in the U.S.-India partnership, suggesting that both sides should continue to search for new areas of cooperation noting that “there is no final frontier in this relationship”. Ambassador Rao further noted that this dialogue architecture should pave way for enhanced Space Applications for societal benefits.
The Chairs of the CSJWG, from the Department of State and NASA on the U.S. side and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for India, expressed their satisfaction at the strengthening relationship between the U.S. and India in civil space activities. This relationship is founded on the deep appreciation of each side for the other’s achievements and capabilities in the development and application of space technologies and the conviction that their partnership in civil space benefits both sides and leads to advances in prosperity, security and scientific knowledge.
The Joint Working Group engaged in a broad range of discussions and endorsed expanded work in a number of areas:
- Existing cooperation, in the use of U.S. and Indian earth observation satellite data, has produced information yielding a broad range of societal benefits including improved weather and monsoon forecasting, disaster management and response, improved agricultural and natural resource use and better understanding of climate change. Through expanded cooperation between their technical agencies that operate earth observing satellites, the two sides agreed on a number of measures that will improve the use of this data to promote sustainable development.
- Building on NASA’s collaboration in India’s highly successful Chandrayaan-1 lunar mission in 2008, NASA and ISRO agreed to explore further cooperative space exploration work, including future missions to the moon and Mars. To this end the CSJWG agreed to continue discussions in planetary science and Heliophysics to identify areas of potential cooperation.
- Continued progress is being made in promoting compatibility and interoperability between the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS) and the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS). Further work in this area will take place bilaterally and in multilateral bodies such as the International Committee on Global Navigation Satellite Systems (ICG).
The two sides exchanged information on a range of space and other policy issues and noted ongoing efforts to open up new opportunities for collaboration.
Both sides confirmed the significant programmatic interest in, and scientific merit of, moving forward with the proposed NASA-ISRO cooperation in the L & S-Band SAR mission.
As the relationship between the U.S. and India in civil space strengthens, the Joint Working Group continues to serve as a useful mechanism for enhanced and expanded cooperation.