Meanwhile, scientists on both sides say letís explore space jointly
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As their leaders try and resolve the old boundary dispute, top scientists from India and China are seeking a mutually beneficial deep space exploration alliance between the two countries. This joint space flight has been proposed on the eve of Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to India, starting tomorrow.
''A joint space physics mission between India and China will be a good step forward,'' Dr Wu Ji, chief scientist for the Chinese space science research and Director for the Center for Space Science and Applied Research (CSSAR) in Beijing, told this correspondent.
''It is not like the Cold War (days), relations between the two countries are getting better and better. We certainly wish to have collaboration with India and we should find more opportunities to talk with the India space agency," said Wu. He said if ISRO has another space mission, China would definitely propose to have a scientific instrument or a payload on board that mission, but added it would have to be at India's invitation.
J N Goswami, director of the Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad a constituent institute of the ISRO, said "a joint investigation in science which is well focused and transparent will be helpful".
There have been a few instances of Sino-Indian collaboration in the area of space science but all have happened because of peer-to-peer respect. While there is a joint working group on space, it has not met in years. In fact, some years ago China had made a competitive financial bid to launch India`s INSAT series of satellites through its workhorse, the Long March Rocket, which did not fructify. This newfound spirit of cooperation comes even as both the regional powers sweat it out in what is being called this "new Asian race in space".
India announced in 1999 that it will take a shot at the moon, China followed with its own announcement in 2004. Today, within a gap of months next year, both countries will have their first missions racing to the moon. China's satellite Change-1 will be launched earlier and will be followed by the Indian lunar satellite Chandrayaan-I. Last week, India announced its plans of sending a man in space by 2014 and landing a man on moon by 2020. In contrast, China flew its first astronaut in 2003 aboard its Shenzou-5 space capsule, and hopes to land a man on lunar surface by 2024.
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