It has been over one and a half years since Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) which probed into Red planet’s orbit in its maiden attempt.
MOM, popularly known as Mangalyaan, has since then not only put India on global map when it comes to space missions, but has also made Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) capabilities well-known across the planet.
ISRO is now known for undertaking a low cost, high value inter-planetary mission, with many countries already having collaborated with them for space-related missions.
It now seems that even world renowned space agency NASA is interested in collaborating with ISRO, and in the future we might see India and the US jointly exploring the Red planet.
Further, there is a possibility that an Indian astronaut might head to the Red planet.
The news about the possibility of a collaboration was disclosed by Charles Elachi, who is the director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which is a part of NASA and known for piloting most of the American planetary exploration efforts.
In a recent interview, he said:
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“We hope so that it will be the case in the future (India and the US on a joint robotic mission to explore Mars). At NASA, we are just beginning to plan for next mission to Mars for the next decade, which is 2020-2030. In fact shortly, there is a meeting in Washington for preparation of the ultimate human space flight to Mars. We clearly hope that India would be interested. Hopefully, India will be part of the consortium between US, Europe, France, Italy among others where all can capitalise on our capabilities to explore the solar system.”
Elachi adds, “With its accomplishment on the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), India is a great partner and can also be a full partner in the international endeavour for exploring Mars.”
He also revealed that NASA is already in the planning process of sending humans to the Red planet and they are looking at it as ‘an international endeavor’.
For that, they have invited international space agencies including ISRO to come together and start thinking on how to send humans to Mars and beyond.
Elachi also congratulated ISRO on its success and said:
“Reaching the Mars orbit in first attempt was an amazing achievement and that too at such low cost. Now American scientists through its MAVEN mission and India through its Mars Orbiter Mission are sharing data.”
He concluded by saying that the Indo-US relations in space-related matter have progressed in the past five years and both NASA and ISRO are ‘heading for a very positive future’.