New Delhi: Top officials of the Australian and Dutch Space agencies have expressed interest in collaborating and working closely with the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). While the two countries have had several decades of experience in the field of space technology, it was only over the last decade that they formally established their respective space agencies.
According to Anthony Murfett, Deputy Head, Australian Space Agency, space would be a key part of Australia’s focus areas in the years to come. This plan would involve startups and businesses and their solutions to transform agriculture, disaster management etc. The ASA, which was established nearly three years ago is looking for domestic and international collaborations for the same.
“The Australian Government is proud to be supporting the Gaganyaan mission by tracking through Australia’s territory on the Coco’s (Keeling) Islands. It shows that Australia can be a trusted partner – we were a partner to NASA during the Apollo missions, we were a partner to Japan during Hayabusa 1&2 and now we’re working with India on Gaganyaan mission,” said Murfett.
Citing immense opportunities for industries to collaborate, the Australian Space official said that ASA and ISRO had recently updated their Memorandum of Understanding to underscore the stronger bilateral relationship.
“Australia is looking to invest and also be a partner and facilitator of business to transform the economy and also through regulation. We are establishing facilities to test space hardware in Australia, we have also invested in a command and control facility in Perth. We have the technology for massive automation and robotics that are used in mines(with very harsh conditions), which are over 1600kms away, we hope to utilize that expertise for automation in space as well,” the Australian official added.
The Netherlands Space Office (NSO), the Dutch Space agency also expressed interest in greater collaboration with ISRO. Representing the agency, Deputy Director, Nico van Putten said that though NSO was formally established in 2009, it was among the founding members of the European Space Agency over four decades ago. Regarding their country’s focus areas in space technology, he said it ranged from development of products and services, miniaturization of technology, components and subsystems, satellite instruments for earth observation and the use of satellite data for studying agriculture, air quality, climate, water management etc.
“Between the Netherlands and India Air quality monitoring is an area of cooperation and there is massive data collection by the TROPOspheric Monitoring Instrument (TROPOMI) on the Sentinel-5P mission, that was launched in 2017. More than 50% of the Netherlands is below sea level, so we are interested in water and agriculture and it is one of our specifics” said Van Putten.
He also shared images of NO2 (nitrogen dioxide) monitoring over India that showcased the difference between pre-pandemic and pandemic-lockdown 2020 difference in pollution levels.
This is to be noted that, unlike India, Australia and Netherlands don’t yet have a standalone and independent space-faring programme. They, notably, work with other agencies and countries to jointly perform missions.
The representatives of the foreign space agencies spoke at the inaugural session of the ‘Building NewSpace in India’ International Space Conference and Exhibition.
Hosted by the Confederation of Indian Industry with the Indian Space Research Organization(ISRO) and their affiliates, the three-day virtual conference will have eight sessions with over 65 speakers from ISRO, industry and Global Space Agencies focused on specific themes – addressing opportunities for industries, Trends in Satcom, Business models, start-up growth drivers etc.
The conference also has a session dedicated to start-ups.
Earlier, Zee Media had reported that ISRO would also be launching two satellites that are meant to provide communications, tracking support for its human-carrying spacecraft. Known as IDRSS (Indian Data Relay System Satellites), they would be placed nearly 36,000 km above the equator(where it would remain in sync with the earth’s rotation or geostationary orbit) and will offer near-total tracking and communication with India’s space assets.
It must be noted that a constellation of three satellites positioned in the 36,000 km orbit can offer real-time, 24/7 monitoring of almost all of the earth. In addition to space-based tracking, there would be ground-based and floating platforms(ships) that would be used to track Gaganyaan as it orbits the earth.