Highlighting the immense scope to expand India-US bilateral ties in space, India’s Ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu on Friday said it is only natural that the two largest democratic countries deepen their existing space collaboration and continue working closely in exploring this final frontier.

“Both India and the US can combine their strengths to provide space-related applications and services to third countries across the globe,” Mr Sandhu wrote in an op-ed in the Washington Examiner, a conservative news outlet.

“In fact, India already provides services like forest fire detection, solar energy calculation, meteorological data, and disaster management support to countries in the region, while NASA, via its Earth Observation (EO) data and other initiatives, has been a pioneer in aiding the progress towards SDGs in several parts of the world. Together, we can achieve a lot more,” he wrote.

In his op-ed titled ‘Space is the next frontier for India-US collaboration’, the Ambassador wrote that after the success of Chandrayaan-3, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that India’s successful moon mission was not India’s alone but that of all of humanity.

This inclusive spirit is one that also drives the India-US relationship, which the leaders of the two countries have described as a “partnership for global good”, he wrote.

“From semiconductors to defence, from green energy to critical and emerging technologies, our cooperation touches every conceivable human endeavour. It is only natural that we further deepen our existing space collaboration and continue working closely in exploring this final frontier. Indeed, when India and the US come together, the sky is not the limit!” Mr Sandhu wrote.

Following the Summit between Prime Minister Modi and President Joe Biden in June 2023, ISRO and NASA have committed to exploring human spaceflight cooperation and launching a joint effort to the International Space Station in 2024.

Data being sent back by Chandrayaan-3 will help aid the understanding of the Moon’s south pole, where it is envisioned the next astronauts to the Moon might land, including under the Artemis programme that India joined recently.

The commercial space sector presents another area brimming with potential, with the number of space startups in India seeing a rapid increase, from just four in the year 2020 to over 150 today, the Indian envoy wrote.

Mr Sandhu said the Indian Space Policy of 2023 has opened up avenues for industry, investment, and research collaborations between Indian and US private sector partners.

Commenting on the India-US collaboration in the field of space, the ambassador said the two countries are working together towards the launch of the NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) satellite, which will help in disaster management and resource monitoring.

“NASA’s ground stations located around the world are supporting Chandrayaan-3’s tracking, deep space communication, and navigation. Space has also been identified as a key area under the India-US Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies (iCET), launched in January 2023,” he wrote.