India and the United States are finalising the formalities to incorporate a US payload in India’s first unmanned moon mission, Chandrayan-1. Both the countries have to sign a formal Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the US’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) are working out the finer details, NASA scientist Dr Amitabh Ghosh told reporters in India recently.
Earlier this year, ISRO had received a request from NASA to place its payload in India’s unmanned moon mission, scheduled for the launch in 2007-08. NASA wants to fly a set of instruments, including a Mini-Synthetic Aperture Radar on board ISRO’s orbiter. The Indo-US joint working group on space cooperation, set up early this year after the visit of US Secretary of State Condaleeza Rice, is meeting for the first time from June 28-29 in Bangalore and according to ISRO sources, finalisation of NASA payload and cooperation in Chandrayan would be the main agenda of the meeting. A high-level US delegation, led by John F Turner, assistant secretary, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, senior officials and associate directors from NASA will have discussions with officials of the ISRO. ISRO plans to put a 525-kg orbiter, scheduled for launch by the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) in 2007, which will hover at 100 km over the moon to collect data on mineral resources and water.