Good morning, I would like to welcome all of you to the 8th U.S.-India Civil Space Joint Working Group meeting.
Let me welcome U.S.-India Joint Civil Space Working Group (CSJWG) co-chair, ISRO Scientific Secretary Shantanu Bhatawdekar and Ambassador Sripriya Ranganathan, Deputy Chief of Mission from the Embassy of India to the United States, Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu, and the two co-chairs of the CSJWG on the U.S. side, NASA Assistant Administrator Karen Feldstein and my deputy, OES PDAS JR Littlejohn.
It’s good to be able to meet in person again in light of the continuing challenges we have all faced during the pandemic.
I’m also grateful that we can meet and discuss a theme that is uniquely positive in the global context – space!
Space remains the final frontier – a shared place with seemingly untapped potential to benefit humanity.
A place that influences most facets of daily life – even if many of our citizens aren’t consciously aware of it.
A place from which to understand the Earth and use that knowledge to mitigate global challenges like climate change and its impacts on some of the world’s most vulnerable populations.
It’s only in the last few decades where we’re starting to truly understand the possibilities associated with space and space exploration.
And space is so vast and so complicated, that it’s going to take a global effort to maximize its realm of possibilities.
That is why the Biden Administration is committed to continued engagement with current and new international partners as we prepare to return to the Moon, Mars and beyond as part of NASA’s Artemis Program. I view support to this endeavor to be key to our overall space diplomacy mission.
Our important bi-annual discussion serves to reinforce our growing cooperation in the space arena and stretches from cutting-edge Earth observation capabilities to interplanetary exploration.
Of the working group’s four sub-groups, the Earth Science working group has been particularly active.
The close collaboration taking place between ISRO and NASA represents a concrete example of our ability to achieve success as they work together toward the launch of the jointly developed Synthetic Aperture Radar satellite or NISAR.
It is my hope our discussions today can serve as a catalyst for increasingly dynamic work from the other three working groups – Planetary Science and Exploration, Heliophysics and Human Space Flight – as part of our growing bilateral space relationship.
Also, it is my hope that pursuing priorities that complement and amplify each other can be continued in multilateral fora.
These include, but are not limited to:
GEO (Group on Earth Observations)
CEOS (Committee on Earth Observation Satellites)
CGMS (Coordination Group for Meteorological Satellites)
The Quad, 2+2,
The ICG (International Committee on Global Navigation Satellite Systems)
iCET (Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies), and finally:
UNCOPUOS (United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space).
The United States stands ready to work with ISRO and the Indian government to expand our reach to the Moon, Mars, and the stars beyond.
In closing, let me leave you with a story about Apollo 8, the first human spaceflight to reach the Moon.
Following his mission, Major General Bill Anders said, and I quote, “We came all this way to explore the Moon, and the most important thing is that we discovered the Earth.”
He understood that one of space exploration’s greatest powers – maybe one of its greatest gifts – is to bind people together, across continents, across oceans, across the planet, in pursuit of knowledge, in pursuit of understanding.
It’s in that spirit that the United States and India, the world’s two largest democracies, engage in this conversation to deepen our cooperation, benefiting not only our people but all humankind riding through the cosmos on this big, blue marble.
Now I would like to turn to Assistant Secretary Lu for his remarks. Thank you.