The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Wednesday, finally approved the setting up of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)’s Technical Liaison Unit (ITLU) in Moscow, Russia. The announcement comes at a time when India is actively preparing for its first manned space mission in 2022. According to a Cabinet statement, “An average expenditure of about Rs 1.50 crore per annum will be incurred towards the salary, office expenses, rent, taxes, etc, for the new unit.”
The establishment of the unit will be a huge boost up for ISRO and help them in developing some of the key technologies and specialized facilities, which will help to support life in space. The ISRO Technical Liaison Unit (ITLU) in Moscow will also allow effective technical coordination for timely interventions on diversified matters with Russia and neighbouring countries for the realisation of the programmatic targets of ISRO, it said.
The liaison officer, deputed at ITLU from ISRO will provide technical information about the developments in research and technology and inputs and will also support the ongoing bilateral programmes in space technology and act on behalf of ISRO.
With this unit, ISRO will be able to collaborate with space agencies/industries in Russia and neighbouring countries for mutually synergetic outcomes. ISRO’s Gaganyaan programme requires development of some of the key technologies and establishment of specialized facilities, which are essential to support life in space, the statement said.
“Keeping in view the 15th August, 2022, timeline for realisation of the Gaganyaan human space programme, it is prudent to avail technical cooperation from International space agencies, who have already demonstrated their technical capabilities in specific areas. Russia, being one of the space-faring nations, it is envisaged to collaborate with Russia extensively in various fields of relevance.”
The ITLU Moscow office would be managed by an ISRO scientists/engineers designated as “counsellor (space)” on deputation, deputed from ISRO and supported by a staff locally sourced. The process is planned to be completed within six months from the date of approval.
The Department of Space has also instituted technical Liaison Units in Washington, and Paris to liaise with various government and space agencies in the USA and Europe, respectively. Space cooperation has been one of the major links between India and Russia from the beginning of the space era and currently both sides are actively pursuing interactions in diversified areas of space programme.