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Space ties with India favourable: US

Senior NASA officials say enhanced cooperation with India will benefit the US.
PTI | By HT Correspondent, Washington
UPDATED ON MAY 15, 2007 11:46 AM IST

Senior officials of the NASA and some scientists have told American lawmakers that there is a lot of merit in increasing international cooperation with leading space powers like India that will only see a win-win situation which benefits the United States and the partnering country.

At the same time at least one senior Republican law maker has voiced scepticism of going about with cooperation with such countries like China and Pakistan on the grounds that "tyrants and dictatorships" are actually a threat to the values of western civilisation.

At a recent Congressional hearing on Space programmes, Democratic Congressman Mark Udall asked Alan Stern, the Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate of the NASA, to assess international collaboration as a means to advance the priorities of National Academy's decadal surveys.

Stern said the US was ready to talk with any country who was on an acceptable list, who had a space programme and capability that could fly instruments or collaborate in missions.

"...And I mean that to be a win-win - certainly, Asian nations like the Japanese and the Indians, who are space powers, the European Space Agency, the individual European national space programmes, the Canadian Space Agency and others all come to mind," he said.

Vice Provost of Physical Science and Engineering at Cornell University Joseph Burns said within one year the world will have three foreign spacecraft in orbit around the moon - Japan, China and India.

"And they will provide a very significant part of our new kinds of understanding of what the moon is all about and thereby aid our exploration programme. I think we need to carry that into other spheres," he said.

But senior Republican law maker Dana Rohrabacher of California argued that while he was all for cooperation between scientists from "free" and "democratic" countries, the United States would have to be "very, very cautious" in training scientists who will return to "dictatorships" and create a threat to western civilisation.

"Whether or not it's a bomb in Pakistan, I would hate to think that we had Pakistani scientists here and trained them how to make that bomb."

"I would hate to think that democratic countries like our own would use our science and so indiscriminately provide information that we provide the means for a dictatorship like China to set up a computer system that will spy on its own people and put believers in God in jail and be able to control the internet in their societies when they couldn't have done it without our help - things such as that," Rohrabacher said.

"So I would just like to make sure that we balance off. Pure science isn't an end in and of itself. If it works with people who are tyrants and negative forces on this world, that science is not a good thing to transmit to those people," the senior Republican in the House Panel on Science and Technology said.

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