The selection of Anil Menon, an American of Indian origin, as one of the 10 future astronauts by NASA marks a new turning point in the history of space missions

The selection of Anil Menon, an American of Indian origin, as one of the 10 future astronauts by NASA marks a new turning point in the history of space missions. He is a pilot of the United States Air Force who has played an essential role in several air operations to save lives. He is a doctor. The 10 will undergo a two-year training course so that they can perform various types of roles essential to any space mission. They will be trained to conduct various experiments, both on board and in space, as well as to walk on the lunar surface. In short, they will meet the future needs of American space missions.

A notable feature of the US space program is the involvement of the private sector. In the days of Apollo, when Neil Armstrong first set foot on the moon, space missions were purely a NASA endeavor. Today, there are private companies that even charge money to passengers wishing to go to space and back.

When Rakesh Sharma was chosen by the Soviet Union to be a cosmonaut in the 1980s, India’s space program was in its infancy. Today ISRO is able to plan even a manned mission to the Moon, but it cannot be expected to take full responsibility for India’s space missions.

The private sector, too, could play a role that would complement that of ISRO. Together, they can make India as good as China when it comes to space technology. The recent launch of Spaceport Sarabhai, a think tank, aimed at strengthening cooperation between the public and private sectors in space technology is a step in the right direction. The selection of Anil Menon is an example.

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Posted on: Thursday December 09, 2021 2:30 AM IST