• Wednesday, July 24, 2024


US firm partners with India for human spaceflight programme

The programme is meant for people from countries who have sent “few or no astronauts” to space

FILE PHOTO: A Blue Origin New Shepard rocket launches from Launch Site One in West Texas north of Van Horn on March 31, 2022. (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Pramod Thomas

THE US-based Space Exploration and Research Agency (SERA) on Monday (1) announced India as a partner country in its human spaceflight programme, which will see six citizen astronauts from across the world launched into space.

The programme, being executed in collaboration with Blue Origin, is meant for people from countries who have sent “few or no astronauts” to space, the agency said.

The selected citizens will undertake the 11-minute journey in New Shepard, Blue Origin’s reusable suborbital rocket, after undergoing training at its launch site in West Texas.

“We want to make space accessible for everyone and are happy to offer this unique opportunity to an Indian citizen who wants to experience the wonders of space travel,” SERA co-founder Joshua Skurla said.

People interested in the programme will have to pay $2.50 to cover verification checks and will have to meet certain physical requirements, SERA said.

The final candidate will be selected by the public through a public vote.

“This approach (of public voting) will ignite national conversations on space and foster international collaboration in space exploration,” SERA co-founder Sam Hutchison said.

India has achieved key milestones in the space sector in the last few months, the most significant of which was landing on the unexplored south pole of the moon – the first country to achieve the feat.

It also launched its first solar mission in September and is working with the Elon Musk-led SpaceX to launch a communications satellite.

Prime minister Narendra Modi, who was sworn in for a rare third term last month, has been focusing on increased privatisation and commercialisation of the space sector, pushing for it to play a larger role on a world stage dominated by India and the US.


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