India: India and France discuss tackling space challenges

India and France have agreed to start a strategic dialogue to address challenges related to space issues, particularly in maintaining safe access to space. The development is significant amid China’s efforts to weaponize space.

The decision to start the dialogue was announced on Wednesday during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Paris. The dialogue will bring together experts from space and defense agencies, government and specialized ecosystems to discuss security and economic challenges in space, the norms and principles governing space, and uncover new areas of collaboration, officials said.

Both sides agreed to hold the first dialogue this year at the earliest. In addition to promoting space-related cooperation, the two sides decided to connect their startup ecosystems, officials said. India is the first country of the year at Vivatech, Europe’s largest digital trade fair, in Paris.

India and France share a decades-old partnership in the civil space sector. Last year, the space agencies of India and France signed a cooperation agreement for the country’s first manned space mission, Gaganyaan. The Indo-French relationship in space spans various facets of space science, technology and applications, including sounding rocket development, liquid engine development, payload hosting, joint realization of satellites, training programs, satellite communications experiments and satellite launches. The Indian Space Research Organization and the French National Space Agency have jointly realized two world-class space missions. The partnership has also been extended to the field of high-resolution Earth observation to realize a joint Earth observation mission with high-resolution optical and microwave imaging. India and France launched a shared vision for space cooperation in 2018.

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