India and Colombia set to ink MoU on Outer space Cooperation for peaceful purposes

Besides India, Colombia is also negotiating a MoU with Brazil for cooperation in outer space.

India and South American country Colombia, later this week are likely to ink a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Cooperation in the exploration and use of Outer Space for Peaceful Purposes later this week.

Top diplomatic sources told Financial Express Online, “India is recognized for its outer space industry and technological advances; therefore Colombia is very much interested in receiving cooperation in this area.”

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Colombia’s Space Commission along with their Ministry of Science and Technology and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has been in discussion over the draft of the MoU. The MoU is likely to include: Remote sensing of the earth; Satellite communication and satellite based navigation; Space science and planetary exploration; Monitoring, prevention and reduction of space debris; Development, testing and operation of spacecraft and ground systems; Use of launch vehicles, space systems and ground systems; Practical applications of space technology including geospatial tools and techniques; and any other areas of cooperation to be mutually agreed upon by the Participants in accordance with the objective of the MoU, and that are within the framework of their competences, purpose, and mission.

Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Colombia, Marta Lucia Ramirez de Rincon, heads the Colombian Space Commission (CCE), and as such, promoted Law 2107 of 2020 under which Colombia ratified its participation on the International Treaty for Exploration of Outer Space of 1967.

“Her objective has been to steer and organize this sector for its advancement and launched a long-term policy where outer space exploration features a pivotal link with Research and Development, business application, the expansion of the international market and the economic and social development of the country,” the diplomat who wished to remain anonymous said.

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Adding, “India has the experience and done Research and Development in the exploration of outer space which opens a wide range of areas for the development of science, research and of course technological advances.”

Under Vice President and Minister Ramirez, the Colombian Air Force and the ministries of Education, Agriculture, IT, and Science and Technology have led a strategy in the promotion of research and development for outer space for peaceful purposes.

“Colombian Business sector as well as the academic environment has also joined this initiative not only to fund specific projects, for example for the promotion of productivity in the agricultural sector, but also to develop particular software for aviation and aerospace transportation, application for gathering and analyzing data and images, among other developments.

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Besides India, Colombia is also negotiating a MoU with Brazil for cooperation in outer space.

India & Colombia Space Cooperation

On November 28, 2018, Colombia’s first (and only) nano-satellite was launched to outer space from the Space Centre Satish Dhawan, in Sriharikota, India, in the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle by the ISRO.

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The nano-satellite owned by the Colombian Air Force, FACSAT 1, has been travelling for the last three years and will last until 2022 in outer space. This satellite takes pictures of Colombian territory and sends that information to Colombia’s command and control centre at the Military and Aviation School Marco Fidel Suarez in Cali, Colombia.

The main purpose is to take real time images of different areas, and especially those in remote zones for the control of illegal crops, disaster risk management, accountability of National Parks, growth of urban centers, among other peaceful purposes.

Background on Colombia’s Outer Space Policy

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Colombia, a country in the northern tip of South America, with access to both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, is also unique for being one of the 13 countries in the world to be on the Equator Line. In 1976, 8 countries claimed sovereignty or exclusive rights over portions of the Geostationary Orbit (GEO) located directly above their territory, and questioned the applicability of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty to this area. On the contrary, most states believe that the 1967 Outer Space Treaty applies to the Geostationary Orbit (GEO). Nowadays, Colombia has even accepted this position and signed -and recently approved the Law to enter-the 1967 Outer Space Treaty.

The First Meeting of Equatorial Countries resulted in the “Bogotá Declaration” (Bogota is the capital city of Colombia), adopted on December 3, 1976, in which seven equatorial countries affirmed their sovereignty over the portions of GEO over their territory. To get around the Outer Space Treaty’s declaration that outer space is not subject to national appropriation, the Bogotá Declaration categorized the GEO as a natural resource, not a region of space.

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