India and UK to connect their space clusters: UK science minister

Mumbai: Ramping up their cooperation in the area of space, India and the United Kingdom will connect their space clusters, starting with Leicester space park, UK’s Minister for Science, Research and Innovation George Freeman has said.

He said India and the UK are also discussing how they can better harness Lower Earth Observation orbits and the regulation of satellite communications.

According to Freeman, both countries are also keen to work together in the field of nuclear energy and looking forward to collaborating on nuclear fission and fusion.

“We are looking to connect the UK space cluster parks with Indian space parks, starting with Leicester (space park). So that we grow the space economy and nurture the skills for the new generation of young Indian scientists working with UK scientists and innovators in a commercial space economy,” Freeman told PTI in an interview.

Freeman was in Mumbai last week to attend the meeting of G20 science ministers. He also met his Indian counterpart, Jitendra Singh.

He said the UK is investing in its space clusters that are spread around the country.

Freeman added the UK is committed to not trying to grow a “vertical integrated sovereign closed space economy”, but an open commercial global economy.

The UK has passed the Space Act, the first nation in Europe to launch and set the regulatory framework for space, he said.

“In the next few months, this summer we are looking at how quickly to develop these ideas so when Prime Minister (Rishi) Sunak comes to India later this year, he and Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi will have a very rich package of measures to announce. So talks are going on this summer,” Freeman said.

He said India and the UK are also looking at areas where the two countries have strategic interests and very strong synergy.

“In the area of future telecoms, satellite communications, AI, and 5G, we see India as the world’s largest democracy and rapidly becoming the biggest and influential economy.

“India’s adoption of technologies and the regulation of those technologies would be absolutely key for global security. So we have agreed to work on those very important technologies to develop both technological cooperation and also regulatory cooperation,” the UK minister said.

India’s innovation economy, the scale of growth and the digital technologies mean UK and India have a very, very exciting few years next decade, Freeman added.