- Why India is interested to venture in astro-politics.
- Discuss the space cooperation with US.
Outer space has opened new pathways for cooperation with the US as well as the Quad members. India has positioned itself to engage more productively in a rapidly evolving domain that is seeing more commerce & contestation.
India’s new strategic interest in outer space is based on – recognition of the centrality of emerging technologies in shaping the 21st century global order, and in taking a frontline role in writing new rules for peace & stability in the outer space. This is part of India’s larger technology agenda.
Technology cooperation forms an important part of Indo-US relations. As emerging technologies overhaul global economic & security structures, Delhi and Washington have widened the interface of their technology cooperation. In a joint statement both countries expressed to continue & expand partnership in new domains of critical & emerging technologies like space, cyber, semiconductors, AI, 5G, 6G and future generation telecommunications technologies, that will define innovation and economic & security landscape of the coming century. Outer space has become a site for lucrative business as well as military competition for balance of power. For such implications, the salience of space cooperation between India and US is likely to increase in coming years.
Till recently, outer space has been the sole preserve of the states. But private entities are now major players in space commerce. The US has traditionally dominated outer space in the commercial domain. Its military competition with Russia set the norms in security field. China’s emergence as a major space power is reshaping astro-politics. All these have lent new urgency for democratic powers like US & India to come together to secure national interests and promote sustainable order in space. India, which has developed significant space capabilities, is deeply invested. India & US are planning to finalise a “Space Situational Awareness Memorandum of Understanding” that will help in data sharing and services towards long-term sustainability of outer space. It will involve monitoring movement of all space objects natural or man-made. When signed, the agreement on SSA will be the first of its kind for India. Also, the US and India have discussed a initiative called ‘Artemis Accords’ – that seek to develop norms for activities in the Moon & other planetary objects.
Beyond the bilateral, the new space working group by the Quad will identify new collaboration opportunities in space. It will consult on rules, norms, guidelines & principles for sustainable use of outer space.
The growing strategic salience of outer space demands substantive national policy action in India. New Delhi has taken tentative steps to cope with the unfolding security challenges in outer space and has initiated dialogues with other countries like Japan & France. Also, the scale of challenges & opportunities in outer space demand more sweeping reforms like relook at the Outer Space Treaty and the Moon Treaty.