US Locks In India’s Ride To the ISS

President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi shake hands during a June 22 state visit. Image: White House

The US has secured a ride to orbit for the first mission with India to the International Space Station, the White House announced this week. 

Officials provided the update after the second US-India initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies in New Delhi, which was led by National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval.

Background: The news is a follow-on to the space agreements reached during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit to the White House in June 2023. At that meeting, the leaders announced a long-term plan of a joint mission to the ISS, in addition to increased data sharing and climate research. India also became the 27th Artemis Accords signatory during Modi’s visit.

It takes two: The leaders announced plans for the joint ISS mission last year, but “securing a carrier” for the flight is a significant update, though they didn’t provide details on which spacecraft would send the astronauts to the orbiting lab.

While the joint US-Indian mission to the ISS was the highest-profile update to come out of the meeting, the fact sheet also highlighted other areas of increased cooperation in space including:

  • Working toward beginning ISRO astronaut training at NASA’s Johnson Space Center
  • Establishing a relationship between the Space Force and Indian space startups on missions such as SSA and semiconductor production
  • Welcoming India to begin participating in Space Command’s Global Sentinel Exercise starting next year
  • Getting ready to launch a joint SAR satellite designed to boost EO
  • Discussing the potential for India to join NASA’s Lunar Gateway program

Industry intel: While in New Delhi, Sullivan and Doval also held a roundtable with companies from both nations to learn how the governments can help facilitate bipartisan cooperation between the space industries.

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