India has signed 250 documents in the field of Space cooperation with 59 countries, these are to advance India’s capabilities and also to help other space-aspiring nations to benefit from space, said ISRO Chairman Dr. K. Sivan. He added that India’s major cooperation in the space technology field was with Russia, USA, France Japan and Israel, elaborating on the ongoing and future projects. The Chairman of India’s space agency was speaking at the plenary session of the International Austronautical Congress (IAC) 2020. 

According to Sivan, India’s human spaceflight programme Gaganyaan has been going strong, with astronauts being trained by Russia and critical medical  technologies being provided by France. However, he said that owing to Covid-19 the Gaganyaan project would see a small shift. “We had initially targeted an August 2022 launch and there is a small shift in targeting. We are trying to take the help of other space-faring nations for getting things done,” he said. 

In his Independence Day speech in 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that when the country is celebrating its 75th year of Independence in 2022, an Indian son or daughter will be flying into space as a part of the Gaganyaan Human Spaceflight mission. This is India’s most ambitious and challenging mission yet.

Elaborating on the work with foreign space agencies, Sivan said that partnerships ranged from cooperation in human spaceflight to planetary exploration and joint experiments. “We have a NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar NISAR satellite, we are also working with United States Geological Survey(USGS) for sharing of satellite data. France is a major partner and we have launched two joint satellites Megha tropiques and Saral and the retired mission is underway. ISRO is partnering with Japanese space agency JAXA to build joint Lunar polar exploration mission. Our cooperation with German Agency DLR is on robotics and Artificial Intelligence.In the field of electric propulsion system and deep space network antenna support we are working with Israeli Space Agency (ISA)” he stated. 

When asked about the upcoming rocket launches this year, Dr. Sivan said that the agency is planning for the launch of PSLV rocket in November. This would also be the maiden launch of this year, as ISRO’s launches were affected after Covid-19 lockdown measures had brought in several travel restrictions. Given that India’s space activities are spread across centers in various parts of the country, it had become challenging for officials and scientists to travel to carry out work. 

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“For India’s Space port, people have to travel from other ISRO facilities located far away to carry out the work, hence there are some delays in the missions. We are planning to have the PSLV C-49 launch in November first week. Subsequently, all missions will be as planned” he said.

Adding that International cooperation was hallmark of Indian space programme, Sivan, who also serves as Secretary, Department of Space said that ISRO had imparted a 2-month long hands-on training in nano satellite building for 60 officials from 33 countries. 

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