The United States and India pursue civil space cooperation under the framework of the Joint Working Group on Civil Space, which was constituted as the follow-up to the U.S.-India Conference on Space Science, Application, and Commerce held in Bangalore in June 2004. Since then, space cooperation has expanded to the areas of space science, earth observation, satellite navigation, natural hazards research, disaster management support, and education.
U.S.-India Civil Space Joint Working Group
The fourth meeting of the U.S.-India Joint Working Group on Civil Space Cooperation was held in Washington, DC on March 21, 2013. The Joint Working Group engaged in a broad range of discussions and endorsed expanded cooperation in a number of areas.
Building on the highly successful Chandrayaan-1 lunar mission, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) agreed to explore further cooperation in such fields as planetary science and heliophysics, as well as potential future missions to the moon and Mars.
ISRO, NASA, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have active cooperation in the area of oceanography through the sharing and analysis of data from ISRO’s OCEANSAT-2 satellite. ISRO and NASA are also working to derive the best possible global precipitation data for research and applications using the joint ISRO-French Space Agency Megha-Tropiques satellite and the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) constellation of satellites. NASA, in cooperation with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, intends to launch the GPM Core Observatory Satellite in 2014 and plans to make data from this satellite available to ISRO for studying tropical atmosphere. ISRO and NASA are also cooperating under the multilateral framework of the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites and the intergovernmental Group on Earth Observations.
India is implementing a Global Positioning System Aided Geo Augmented Navigation System (GAGAN) for civil aviation purposes through a commercial agreement with the U.S. firm Raytheon. India is also working on its indigenous satellite navigation system, a seven-satellite constellation known as the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS). Coordination to ensure compatibility between IRNSS and the U.S. Global Positioning System is currently under way.
Cooperation in Microwave Remote Sensing
ISRO and NASA are exploring the possibility of collaborating on the joint development and launch of a radar satellite mission comprising a dual frequency (L and S band) Synthetic Aperture Radar System.
Deep Space Navigation and Tracking Services Support for Mars Orbiter Mission
ISRO is planning the launch of the ‘Mars Orbiter Mission’ during October-November 2013. NASA is providing deep space navigation and tracking support services to this mission during the non-visible period of the Indian Deep Space Network.
Scientific Personnel Exchange Program and Fellowship Programs
ISRO and NASA have worked out Terms of Reference for a Professional Engineer and Scientist Exchange Program. Two NASA scientists specialized in earth observation are expected to visit ISRO centers in 2013. India has also funded the establishment of the Professor Satish Dhawan Graduate Endowment Fellowship Program at the California Institute of Technology under which one meritorious graduate student from the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology will pursue a master’s program in aerospace engineering at Caltech. The first student is expected to register in September 2013.