Bureau of Oceans, Environment and Science
Washington, DC
March 2, 2006

As part of his overall effort to reinvigorate our relationship with India, President Bush issued a joint statement with then Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee on November 9, 2001. Among other issues, the two leaders agreed to initiate discussion on civil space cooperation. On January 12, 2004, President Bush and Prime Minister Vajpayee announced the Next Steps in Strategic Partnership (NSSP), which proposed expanded engagement on civilian nuclear activities, civilian space programs and high-technology trade based on a series of reciprocal steps. President Bush and Prime Minister Singh further expanded these commitments to civil space cooperation in their Joint Statement of July 18, 2005, pledging to build closer ties in space exploration, satellite navigation and launch, and in the commercial space arena through mechanisms such as the U.S.-India Working Group on Civil Space Cooperation (JWG).

The JWG held its inaugural meeting in Bangalore on June 29-30, 2005, and identified new and expanded areas for civil space cooperation. Progress has been made since on several issues, including negotiating of the Memorandums of Understanding to place two instruments provided by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on India’s Chandrayaan-1 lunar mission, negotiations on space launch agreements, and discussions on promoting interoperability between Indian and U.S. civil space-based positioning, navigation and timing systems.

The Chandrayaan-1 mission is an important step forward in U.S.-India space ties. Negotiations have taken place for two NASA instruments — a Miniature Synthetic Aperture Radar to map ice deposits in the Moon’s polar regions and a Moon Mineralogy Mapper to assess mineral resources of the Moon — to join India’s instruments in mutual exploration of the Moon. The Chandrayaan-1 mission will be a major advance for U.S./Indian civil space cooperation, as well as for the scientific activities critical to President Bush’s Vision for Space Exploration.

Once finalized, the Technology Safeguards Agreement and Commercial Space Launch Agreement together will facilitate further endeavors of commercial and civilian space cooperation.

The United States and India have been cooperating on space for decades. NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) cooperate with India on aerosol monitoring. NOAA is working with India on monitoring of drought and malaria outbreaks, and they have agreed in principle to establish an earth reception station in India to support worldwide timely environmental data collection. An agreement established over 8 years ago by NASA, NOAA, India’s Department of Space and India’s Department of Science and Technology in the area of Earth and atmospheric sciences has yielded cooperative efforts in measurement of tropical rainfall, long-range forecasting of regional climate over India, and improving the understanding of summer monsoon variability. India contracted with a major U.S. firm to develop an augmentation of the GPS navigation system to modernize its air traffic control system, with strong support from the Department of Transportation and the FAA. India participates in the international GLOBE program of science education supported by NASA, the National Science Foundation and the State Department. India and the U.S. also collaborate on international programs, including the International Charter for Space and Major Disasters, the COSPAS-SARSAT search and rescue program, and a telemedicine project in Afghanistan. NOAA, NASA, and other U.S. agencies are working with India through the intergovernmental Group on Earth Observations to develop and operate a Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS). 

Related links

Comments Relating to Joint Space Exploration Efforts Made By President Bush During his Trip to India (excerpts)