A senior Isro scientist said: “This will be what we call a gateway station, which will be used to link the proposed Indian Data Relay Satellites (IDRS). We’ve made the proposal and the site has been identified by our partners in France. Acquisition of required permissions and other processes are ongoing. While the first major use case for the station could be Gaganyaan, this will have benefits for all future telemetry and tracking operations, monitoring of launch vehicles during launches, downloading data from remote sensing satellites etc.”
This project is being enabled by department of space (DoS) and Isro’s international cooperation with France. As on date, India, through DoS and Isro has signed space cooperative documents with space agencies of 61 countries. “In order to intensify the existing space relations and also to establish new relations with other nations in the peaceful uses of outer space, 12 cooperative documents with foreign entities were signed during April 2022 and March 2023,” Isro said.
Some key agreements are: Aerosol and greenhouse gases monitoring (UAE); establishing and operating transportable telemetry terminals for Gaganyaan (Australia); deep space network for Chandrayaan-3 (US); space situational awareness (US & France) etc. As part of the cooperation with France, Isro-CNES have signed an agreement on HSP under which Indian flight surgeons and ground support technicians had undergone specific training at CNES, Toulouse, France, and at Astronaut Training Centre, Cologne, Germany. An Isro team also participated in the debriefing session of an ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut who returned from ISS.
“Wind tunnel testing of Gaganyaan crew module and crew escape system is progressing at the Glavkosmos facility in Russia with three models supplied by Isro. The discussion has also progressed well with respect to the establishment of the NavIC reference station in Russia and the GLONASS reference station in India,” Isro said.
Aside from this, India-Japan space cooperation is currently focusing on lunar exploration, satellite navigation, and earth observation. Isro and Jaxa (Japanese space agency) are specifically working on completing the phase-A study of the joint lunar polar exploration mission, finalising instruments to be accommodated in lander and rover, sharing earth observation data for agro-meteorology products and rice crop monitoring; and establishing Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System’s (IRNSS) NavIC Navigation with Indian Constellation) reference station in Japan.