NETRA to receive info about threats to space assets

ISRO's NETRA in Bengaluru to soon receive information from US agency about threats to space assets

India and the United States will sign a Memorandum of Understanding on Space Situational Awareness

The logo of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) at its headquarters in Bengaluru. Credit: Reuters Photo

The ‘NETRA’ in Bengaluru will soon start collaborating with the Combined Space Operation Center (CSpOC) located at the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California to protect satellites of India and the United States from natural and man-made threats.

India and the United States will sign a Memorandum of Understanding on Space Situational Awareness by the end of this year, creating a framework for sharing data and services to ensure the long-term sustainability of outer space activities, according to a joint statement issued after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with President Joe Biden at the White House in Washington D.C.

The agreement will help the Indian Space Research Organization’s ‘NETRA’ in Bengaluru to receive from the CSpOC in the US data about space debris and other objects in the space and potential threat they could pose to the safety and security of the new launches as well as the existing satellites and other space assets.

The ISRO opened its NETRA – Network for Space Object Tracking and Analysis – within the ISTRAC campus at Peenya in Bengaluru on December 14 last year.

The US Joint Space Operation Command Center (JSpOC) transitioned into the CSpOC – a US-led multinational initiative involving the UK, Australia, Canada, France, Germany and New Zealand. It receives inputs from the Space Surveillance Network and share data with the nations having Space Situational Awareness agreement with the US.

A source in New Delhi said that the Space Situational Awareness data sharing pact between India and the US would help the exchange of data about the threat posed to the satellites and other assets of the two nations – not only by the countless debris in the increasingly overcrowded space but also from hostile anti-satellite capabilities.

According to a fact-sheet issued by the White House after Modi-Biden talks, the US welcomed India’s “consideration of potential cooperation in Artemis and the Artemis Accords, a set of principles to support the safe and transparent exploration of space to the moon and beyond”.

Modi also discussed India-US bilateral cooperation in the space sector with Biden’s Vice President Kamala Harris, who heads the National Space Council of America.

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