US aerospace industry to Obama: Learn from India or perish

January 24th, 2009 - 1:45 pm ICT by IANS  

ISRONew Delhi, Jan 24 (IANS) Taking note of India’s stunning successes in space research, the US aerospace industry believes it could become a world leader in space technology and has urged the Obama administration to learn from it.The Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) of the US, in a special report this month, has advised the incoming administration to focus on quality education to remain in competition as India and China make rapid strides.

“In a recent survey of more than 270,000 college freshmen, only 7.5 percent said they intended to major in engineering - the lowest level since the 1970s. At the same time, other nations, such as China and India, emphasise the education of scientists and engineers and could become the world leaders in technology.

“Efforts to sustain a strong US scientific and technical workforce are not only critical to the space workforce but also to our economy and national security,” the AIA said in a report titled ‘The Role of Space in Addressing America’s National Priorities’.

This is one more instance of how the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has made the space industry czars sit up.

The agency successfully launched the lunar mission Chandrayaan-1 Oct 22 last year, joining a club of select players.

Earlier last year, it had launched Israel’s TecSAR satellite under a commercial contract with Antrix Corporation, its commercial wing, on Jan 21, followed by the launch of Cartosat-2a, IMS-1 and eight foreign nano satellites April 28.

That translates into stiff competition for the US.

“As other nations make rapid advancements in acquiring or exploiting space capabilities, America’s leadership in space is no longer guaranteed and the security of its space assets is no longer assured.

“Given the growing US dependence on these systems, the nation cannot afford to treat its national security, civil and commercial space capabilities as separate ’stovepipes’ but rather should look at our space capabilities as a singular enterprise consistent with national goals and objectives,” the AIA report said.

Underlining the critical importance of the space systems and technologies to the US economic, scientific and national security capabilities, it noted: “Without space systems, US military forces have reduced operational effectiveness, policymakers cannot make informed decisions about the nation’s security and economy and civil financial and communications capabilities are degraded or disrupted.”

Putting the report in context, association president and CEO of the association Marion C. Blakey wrote in the introductory remarks: “As a new administration and Congress take office, AIA is working to ensure that our nation’s policymakers are aware of the major issues facing our aerospace industry.

“Because this report was prepared with the input of AIA’s many aerospace companies, it reflects an industry view that looks beyond individual programmes to consider a much wider range of issues.

“While the US still enjoys a leadership position in space flight, satellite services and national security space operations, that lead is perishable. Our nation has many areas of international cooperation in space ventures, but we also have credible competitors with the vision and resources to equal or even supplant our dominance - a situation that would adversely affect both our economy and national security,” he noted.

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