About 200 delegates from the United States of America and 300 from India in the domain of space science met in Bangalore, India between June 21-25, 2004 in a significant conference that aimed at discussing collaboration on research, production, trade and satellite navigation. The 5 day, ‘India-United States Conference on Space Science, Applications and Commerce’, was organized by Astronautical Society of India (ASI) and American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). The event was sponsored by Indo-US Science and Technology Forum, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Department of State, USA and other 7 co-sponsors from the industry and government sector.
The inauguration took place at the J N Tata Auditorium, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. It was presided on the dais by Mr Prithviraj Chavan, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (India); Dr David C Mulford, Ambassador of USA to India; Mr G Madhavan Nair, Chairman, ISRO; Kenneth I Juster, Under Secretary of Commerce, USA and Dr Fredrick D Gregory, NASA. Mr Prithviraj read out a message from Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India. The Indian PM had encouraging words tracing the long history of Indo-US collaboration in space sector. “As two space faring nations, the sky is no longer the limit of our cooperation,” were the PM’s concluding statements. Mr Prithviraj also elaborated his vision of space cooperation. Dr David then read out a special message from George W Bush, the President of USA. The President wished of sharing expertise and knowledge for the mutual growth and realization of dreams with an overall ambit of betterment of mankind. The inauguration also had important messages from the other panelists.
Opening Plenary – Status and Prospects
The opening plenary session had presentations from a mix of speakers that represented policy makers, space chiefs, ex-astronauts and core scientists. There were 6 key talks in this session. G Madhavan Nair spoke on the perspectives of cooperation and commerce in Space. His speech focussed primarily on three areas – on how Indian Space Programme is working towards reaching the common man; on the commercial and research opportunities; and on the possible areas of cooperation. Kenneth I Juster, spoke on challenges and potentials of India- US cooperation. He mentioned that there are no more ‘sanctions’ in space sector. He also declared the clearance of a joint satellite programme between US and India. Sheelkant Sharma, Additional Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), India followed with speech covering policy aspects of the two countries. Fredrick D Gregory, Deputy Administrator, NASA, USA then talked on a collective thinking process to meet individual missions. Lee M Morin, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, USA, spoke next mentioning on the need to work on applications that will reach the villages of India and not remain with the elite urbanites. John J Kelly, Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere, USA, spoke on the concept that an evolving world has inherently evolving needs. “Earth Observation is an important process to address such needs,” he said.