Russia is prepared to join in India’s lunar space study project, the head of the Russian Space Agency said yesterday after a government meeting to discuss the 2004 federal space budget. Space research featured on the agenda of a three-day visit to Moscow by Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, along with several ministers and nearly 100 businessmen, which ended yesterday. Moscow’s cooperation with India in space began more than 30 years ago. Russian carrier rockets have been putting Indian satellites in space. In September, the India government approved a $83 million program to send an unmanned mission to the moon by 2008. The mission called Chandrayan-I would put a 400- kilo satellite into lunar orbit within the next five years using an Indian-made polar satellite launch vehicle. The satellite will probe the physical characteristics of the lunar surface, officials in New Delhi said.
The first Indian in space, Rakesh Sharma, was sent aloft as part of a Soviet mission. Diplomatically, the week has been packed with crucial developments in India’s ties with several nations.