South Korea, India to begin ISS partnership talks in 2010

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South Korea and India are set to start talks on their membership of the International Space Station programme in 2010.

The heads of the South Korean and Indian space agencies told the first plenary session of the International Astronautical Congress in Daejeon, South Korea on 12 October that they want to join the ISS.

Indian Space Research Organisation chairman G Madhavan Nair told the plenary "we want to join." His country could help with crew transport as ISRO is planning a manned space programme with a first flight around 2015. It has had discussions with the Russian Federal Space Agency for help - the Russians assisted China with its Shenzhou manned spacecraft. China is another potential ISS partner and could provide crew transport with Shenzhou.

Korea Aerospace Research Institute president Joo-jin Lee told Flightglobal the ISS talks timetable would start early next year, but added: "We need to close issues with our own programme. We are talking about participation [in ISS]. In principle we agree for joint work for extended [use of] ISS."

The 2010 timetable is partly because the ISS partners are waiting for the US government to officially back an extended use of the space station to 2020 and beyond. The existing ISS partners are Canada, the European Space Agency, Japan, Russia and the USA. The original plan had been to de-orbit ISS in 2016.

Once the USA decides to agree to an ISS extension, the station's partners can start to negotiate the changes to the inter-agency framework agreement that underpins the project. Agencies use the barter principle and the provision of cargo resupply and station modules, for example, is exchanged for crew transport and astronaut mission time.

Korea Aerospace Research Institute launched its first rocket in August, the Korea Space Launch Vehicle (KSLV). Due to a problem with its fairing the satellite on board failed to reach its proper orbit. The institute is investigating the failure's cause and plans to launch KSLV again in the first half of 2010.