Close on the heels of US President Barack Obama taking the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) off the Entity List which did not allow transfer of any dual-use technology to it, British Minister for Universities and Science,David Willett has called for closer co-operation between ISRO and UK’s space programme.
Visiting the ISRO Satellite Centre, he set out his vision for a broader and deeper partnership between the two countries that builds on the complementary strengths of the UK and Indian expertise in space science.
As a first, the concrete example of the new strengthened partnership, Willetts invited India to partner the UK in its TechDemoSat programme. TechDemoSat is an industry-led technology demonstration satellite which aims to provide a low-Earth-orbit test bed to help demonstrate the technical maturity and commercial viability of innovative new space technology. It is a low-cost satellite platform into which payloads will be packaged from a range of industrial and academic organisations.
As a quid pro quo, T K Alex, director of the ISRO Satellite Centre, invited the UK to consider the possibility of partnering India in training the next generation of space scientists through academic exchanges between the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, the Indian Institute of Remote Sensing, the Centre for Space Science and Technology Education in Asia and the Pacific and leading UK universities.
Willetts, who was accompanied by the British Deputy High Commissioner to Karnataka and officials from the UK Space Agency and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, viewed the construction of Resourcesat-2 and a satellite testing facility at ISAC.
David Willetts said, “It is a great honour to be the first visiting UK Minister to tour ISAC.
I am deeply impressed by the facilities that I have seen and potential real-world impact of satellites like Resourcesat-2 on areas such as agricultural production and water resource management. I am delighted that Dr Alex shares my vision of much closer cooperation and collaboration between the UK and India on space science and innovation and I look forward to welcoming an Indian delegation to the UK in the near future.”