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India inks treaty with US to explore the moon
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July 27, 2008 10:01 IST

India, along with seven other countries, has signed a landmark agreement with the United States to carry out lunar exploration.

The agreement was signed at American space agency NASA's [Images] Ames Research Centre in Silicon Valley this week and it would be formally announced on Tuesday.

Apart from India, the countries which signed the pact with the US are Britain, Canada [Images], France [Images], Germany [Images], Italy [Images], Japan [Images] and South Korea.

The agreement, which lays the groundwork for a new generation of lunar exploration, will see a multinational fleet of robot spacecraft returning to the moon in coming years, with countries like India, Germany and South Korea playing key roles, the San Jose Mercury News has reported.

It also allows NASA to share costs. While the United States has budgeted money for four lunar spacecrafts, scientists want it up to eight landers on the surface.

'It is a like the beginning of a beautiful friendship, like at the end of 'Casablanca',' NASA's planetary science division director James Green said at Moffett Field this week.

'Many of these countries are quite interested in the manned programme. They want to provide astronauts to be the first Canadian or the first Italian or the first French man or French woman on the Moon,' Green said.

Representatives of the space and science agencies of all members spent Thursday at Moffett Field working on a plan to launch lunar spacecrafts and orbiters, establishing a network to monitor the moon's seismic activity, the paper said.

'The exploration of the moon in the next decade will not be human, it will be this international flotilla,' said David Morrison, interim director of the newly created Lunar Science Institute at Ames.

'Ultimately, I think we will send people to the moon, but we don't have to wait for that.'

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