Indian flag can fly on ISS: Ex-NASA official

Indian flag can fly on ISS: Ex-NASA official

Maj Gen Charles Frank Bolden, former Administrator of NASA, speaks at MS Ramaiah Institute of Technoology in Bengaluru on Thursday | Nagaraja Gadekal

BENGALURU: The International Space Station (ISS) National Laboratory, which used to be the US portion of the ISS earlier, can also be used for experiments by Indian students, provided they put enough pressure on Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), former National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) administrator Maj. General Charles F Bolden Jr. said on Thursday.

Addressing students from several colleges through a video link set up at the MS Ramaiah Institute of Technology, the former astronaut spoke at length about his experience in space, the future of space travel and how Indian students could ensure that the country is not left behind in the space race.

“There is no reason the Indian flag shouldn’t be on the ISS,” Bolden said. He asked students to challenge ISRO and to go to the Indian space agency with experiments and ask for permission to conduct them onboard the ISS. Talking about ISRO’s plan for human spaceflight, Bolden urged students to also find out about the process to be an astronaut with ISRO. “If ISRO comes to NASA and says we want to conduct experiments at the National Lab, I see no reason why it cannot happen,” he said.

NASA is observing the women’s history month and will conduct an all women spacewalk on March 29, Bolden said. Astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch will undertake a spacewalk.Talking about the future of space travel, Bolden said that according to Global Exploration Roadmap (GER), a document to which 14 space agencies — including ISRO — are signatories, the plan was to establish a Lunar Orbit Gateway, a staging area for missions to the moon and to Mars.

“After 30 years in Lower Earth Orbit (LEO), the world’s space agencies are looking at Cislunar space and Mars. NASA is looking for private partnerships and LEO would be handed over to commercial companies or international partnerships,” he said.

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