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India,  US Seek Commercial Collaboration in Aerospace - 2004-06-27


India and the United States are exploring ways to step up trade and collaboration in civilian space-related activities. New avenues in commerce between the two countries have opened up since the United States eased decades of restrictions on high-technology exports to India.

U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce Kenneth Juster says Washington has allowed a subsidiary of Boeing, the American aerospace giant, to enter into talks with the Indian Space Research Organization. The aim is the joint development and marketing of communication satellites.

Mr. Juster's announcement came at a five-day conference in the Indian high-tech city of Bangalore. The purpose was to boost ties between the two countries' space programs, and develop stronger commercial links in civilian aerospace production.

Indian space scientists say they are developing a new communication satellite for the global market that will provide links for broadcasters, telephones and Internet firms.

Discussions are being held on incorporating items such as communications technology made by Boeing into the Indian satellite.

The director of the Indian Space Research Organization's Satellite Center, P.S. Goel, says such collaboration will make it possible to build the satellites at competitive prices.

"We can work together in a cost-effective way," said Mr. Goel. "Boeing has the market access. We have the infrastructure and technology. So, we can work together and get into that market. So, it is a model, which helps both."

Such collaboration was banned until recently. For decades, the United States severely restricted the export of products and technology to India's space agency, for fear they might be diverted to use in the country's nuclear and missile programs. But most such restrictions were lifted in 2001, as relations between the two countries improved.

India's space program primarily focuses on providing services, such as telecommunications and weather forecasting, for the domestic market. But in recent years, India has begun exploiting the business potential of its program, including the leasing out of Indian communication satellites, and developing rockets for satellite launches.

Indian officials say the country's cost-effective space program has paved the way for providing space equipment and software to the developed world.

U.S and Indian officials say the two countries also want to collaborate in areas such as space exploration, research, remote sensing and weather forecasting.

The Bangalore conference was co-sponsored by several U.S. companies with major stakes in the aerospace business, including Honeywell, Raytheon and Boeing.