Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, right, speaks with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a Dec. 6 summit in New Delhi, India. Credit: Prime Minister’s Office of India

SEOUL, South Korea — India and Russia have agreed to strengthen cooperation in the space sector, including human spaceflight programs and satellite navigation. The two countries also promised to seek “mutually beneficial” cooperation in developing launch vehicles and the use of outer space for peaceful purposes, including planetary exploration. 

These were part of a broader set of trade, military and technology agreements reached during a Dec. 6 summit between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin in New Delhi. 

In a joint statement issued following the summit, India and Russia “welcomed the enhanced cooperation between the State Space Corporation ‘Roscosmos’ and the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), including in the human spaceflight programs and satellite navigation and agreed to study the prospects of the development of mutually beneficial cooperation in the development of launch vehicles and use of outer space for peaceful purposes, including planetary exploration.” 

The two countries also welcomed joint activities in the human spaceflight program and expressed satisfaction with the training of four Indian astronaut candidates at the Yu.A. Gagarin Research & Test Cosmonaut Center. As part of the Gaganyaan program, India’s first human-crewed space flight mission, the training began in February 2020 under a June 2019 contract between ISRO and Roscosmos’ subsidiary Glavcosmos and wrapped up in March 2021. India will select three of the four who will be sent to space for seven days in 2023 aboard Gaganyaan, a crew capsule that will be launched on India’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV).

“To facilitate further cooperation in space,” India and Russia signed an agreement on technology protection due to cooperation in the field of research and use of outer space for peaceful purposes and building and operation of launch vehicles and ground-based space infrastructure. The two nations also agreed to strengthen cooperation within the U.N. Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN COPUOS), including the issues of the long-term sustainability of outer space activities.

Park Si-soo covers space industries in South Korea, Japan and other Asian countries. Park worked at The Korea Times — South Korea's leading English language newspaper — from 2007 to 2020. He earned a master’s degree in science journalism from Korea...