Human spaceflight may take India-US relations to new heights as space diplomacy gains importance

Human spaceflight may take India-US relations to new heights as space diplomacy gains importance
US President Donald Trump (left) and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (right) at the joint press meeting at Hyderabad House in New DelhiIANS

  • Yesterday US President Donald Trump hinted that there may be plans to increase collaboration between India and the US in the space sector.
  • He launched India’s upcoming human spaceflight mission, Gaganyaan.
  • A new space programme may be on the books to counter China’s growing dominance in the space arena and aid India’s goal to put humans in space.
India and the US have looked to increase their collaboration in the space sector since the turn of the century. Now, a new threshold may be within reach after US President Donald Trump indicated that there may be a joint space programme on the books between America and India.

“America is looking forward to expanding space exploration with India as you are pushing the limits, including in the realm of human spaceflight. That is a great thing,” he said at the Namaste Trump rally in Ahmedabad yesterday.

What does India get out of the deal?
India is currently in the midst of preparing its first human spaceflight mission Gaganyaan. Last year, former NASA administrator Charles Frank Bolden Junior said something similar during the India-US space dialogue. He suggested forming another working group to focus on a human space flight to undertake missions, train and share expertise.

The US has already succeeded in putting multiple men and women in space and on the Moon. Collaborating with them brings valuable experience to the table.

Bolden suggested sending Indian astronauts to train on the International Space Station (ISS), which helps them experience what it feels like to live in space.

It should also be noted that space diplomacy has been an integral part of international relations and security in recent years. A successful space sector puts a country in the elite group of ‘space superpowers’.

What does the US hope to achieve?
For the US, India offers economically feasible satellite launches which will include the small satellite launch vehicles (SSLV) in the near future. Many American companies use the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) launch facilities to launch satellites into space.

Supporting India’s space programme is also a way to counter China’s growing dominance in the Indo-Pacific region. The Chinese space programme has been progressing rapidly, successfully soft-landing on the Moon last year — something that India failed to do with Chandrayaan 2.

See also:
Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump announce 'comprehensive global strategic partnership' in a joint conference

From army helicopters to trade deal — Donald Trump's holding out carrots for India

Namaste Trump: Full text of Donald Trump's speech at Ahmedabad's Motera stadium