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NASA Keen on Boosting Links with Arab World.

Summary: ABU DHABI u US space agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is keen on expanding cooperation in space science and technology with non-traditional partners including countries in the Arab region, said an agency official on the sidelines of the Global Space Technology Forum C on Monday.

Michael OAEBrien, assistant administrator, NASA Office of External Relations, told Khaleej Times the agency had signed about 3,000 space science agreements since its inception in the late 1950s and currently have about 450 active agreements with nearly 100 countries.

oThis means that entering into joint space projects with different countries had been a built-in ethos of our functioning,o OAEBrien said.

oHowever, nearly half of those agreements are with about 10 space agencies like the European Space Agency, while the other half is with about 90 countries spread across the world.

oAnd now we want to expand our relationships to new regions and countries, especially with the non-traditional partners, instead of remaining excessively concentrated on those ten space agencies. The new administration in the US thinks expanding international cooperation in the space sciences is the right thing to do.o

He suggested that such expansion of relationships could begin with low cost, high impact programmes, either by developing the ongoing joint projects or by launching new relationships.

oEventually we can include high-end programmes like launching of spacecraft carrying humans or joint satellite space explorations,o the NASA official said.

oWe are ready to expand ties with the UAE in space science, though no talks are going on any specific joint project.o

NASA signed an agreement with the UAE last year to send 12 students from the country to visit the agency centres in the US to gain exposure to research studies underway there.

He disclosed that the agency would sign an agreement with Saudi Arabia in the next couple of days on the establishment of the Lunar Science Institute in Saudi Arabia. Similarly an agreement would be signed with Oman on the launch of the Globe Education Programme of NASA to that country.

Dr Aa Mohamed Argoun, the former director of the Egyptian Space Programme said at the Forum that osome critical elements of space industry capability must be in place first, before the creation of an Arab Space Agency.o

oWe must develop a joint remote-sensing Arab satellite project first, and see the establishment of indigenous private sector space companies to form partnerships with international companies and push for greater development of the regionAEs space industry,o Argoun told a session on aespace policy, regulations C and economicsAE.

oUniversity support is also important, as is gaining a foothold in component manufacturing activity and greater regional involvement in satellite design and assembly.o

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Publication:Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Date:Dec 8, 2009
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