February 23, 2024

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Can PM Modi become India’s next astronaut?  What the head of NASA said

Can PM Modi become India’s next astronaut? What the head of NASA said

NDTV spoke with NASA chief Bill Nelson, who is also a senator

New Delhi:

NASA chief Bill Nelson, who is also a senator, told NDTV that flying into space is a valuable experience for any politician. The US space agency will train an Indian astronaut to fly to the International Space Station at the end of next year on a two-week scientific mission.

Asked whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi could be an astronaut, Nelson, who is currently visiting India, pointed out that he has traveled on a space shuttle as a politician and that Prime Minister Modi is a “space enthusiast.”

“Flying into space is a valuable experience for any politician, and much more so for a head of state… From space, there are no political borders, no religious borders or racial borders… One is a citizen of Earth.” He added.

He said India should “define its role in the Artemis programme”, a project to live on the moon to prepare for human missions to Mars.

NASA plans to send the first woman and the first person of color to the moon as part of this project.

He said India can be “an active partner as we venture into the universe as star sailors on the cosmic sea.”

Responding to a question about NASA’s expectations from India for the Artemis project, Mr. Nelson said there will be a lot of opportunities for international cooperation on moon missions and the details are yet to be determined.

Asked if this could happen without the cooperation of the Indian Space Agency, he said future moon missions would be “with commercial partners and international partners.”

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He said the United States would go to the moon and then to Mars for a “continued presence.” He added that many countries are interested in cooperation.

This will be the first visit by NASA astronauts to the Moon in nearly 50 years. Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin were the first men to land on the moon in 1969.

More specific to the Artemis program is the NISAR satellite, or “NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar Satellite.” This satellite will become crucial for survival on Earth because of the composite 3D images of the planet it will send back.

The satellite, which is operated under an equal partnership between NASA and ISRO, will lift off from Sriharikota in the first quarter of 2024. The satellite will monitor climate change and Earth’s deformation.