2 Indian satellites to be part of Brics ‘virtual constellation’: Report
The BRICS remote sensing constellation will be made up of six existing satellites contributed by the space agencies of four Brics countries.
India and China are a step closer to working together in space after a joint commission on space cooperation for the Brics bloc was established at a meeting of the top space agencies of Brazil, Russia, India and China, on Wednesday, according to a report by official Chinese media.
Two orbiting Indian satellites Resourcesat-2 and 2A will be part of the “virtual constellation of remote sensing satellites”, a data sharing mechanism among the BRICS countries.
The BRICS remote sensing constellation will be made up of six existing satellites contributed by the space agencies of Brics countries including the CBERS-4, jointly developed by Brazil and China, Russia’s Kanopus-V-type and China’s Gaofen-6 and Ziyuan III 02, official Chinese media reported.
The meeting on Wednesday, held by a video link among the heads of the four space agencies, takes forward the agreement for cooperation in remote sensing satellite data sharing signed on August 18, 2021 under India’s chairship of Brics.
The August 2021 agreement enabled the building of the virtual constellation of specified remote sensing satellites of Brics space agencies.
“This will contribute to strengthening multilateral cooperation among Brics space agencies in meeting the challenges faced by mankind, such as global climate change, major disasters and environmental protection,” a statement by the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) said in August last year.
Speaking at the joint commission’s first meeting via video, Zhang Kejian, head of the China National Space Administration (CNSA), said on Wednesday that it will guide the remote sensing sharing mechanism to better help the socioeconomic development of the Brics countries and meet common challenges, such as climate change, disaster relief and environmental protection.
The official Chinese report on the meeting did not give a timeline when the virtual satellite constellation will become operational.
A forward movement on the mechanism can be expected at the upcoming Brics leaders’ summit to be held in late June.
According to Isro, the Resourcesat-2A satellite, launched in 2016 and one of India’s two satellites among the six in the constellation, provides cloud-free data for various operational applications, such as crop production estimation, forest cover mapping, mapping and monitoring land and water resources, rural and urban development plans and disaster management support.
Both Indian satellites are “extremely useful for monitoring vegetation and water resources,” according to Isro.
India and China bilateral cooperation in space has never really taken off despite the Sino-Indian Joint Committee on Space Cooperation set up in 2015.
The agreement – the 2015-2020 Space Cooperation Outline – was signed between Isro and CNSA during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to China in 2015.
“The two sides agreed to reinforce the cooperation in the field of Satellite Remote Sensing, Space-Based meteorology, Space Science, Lunar and Deep Space Exploration, Satellite Navigation, Space Components, Piggy-back Launching Services, and Education and Training,” the agreement said.