Months after Pakistan opted out of the proposed SAARC Satellite project – a friendly gift from neighbouring India, China has accepted India’s proposal to have satellite constellation on behalf of the BRICS, an association of five major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

As all the BRICS members are well aware of the fact that space really knows no national boundaries, the top political leadership in Beijing has welcomed India’s proposal and sent Chinese officials to New Delhi to attend a meeting. Senior officials of 11 well-known space agencies in the world also participated in the meeting. The meeting took place soon after New Delhi came up with the idea of a ‘global space observatory’ mainly to monitor climate change.

Addressing the meeting, Head of the French space agency (CNES) Jean-Yves Le Gall said that BRICS are trying to answer some of the existential questions on the future of human kind. Le Gall also appreciated India’s effort, saying: “The need of the hour is for the space agencies to pool their resources to create a virtual constellation of earth observing satellites that will monitor global warming and climate change.”

Deputy Administrator of the Chinese National Space Agency (CNSA) Wu YanHua, too, thanked India for hosting such a space summit. Before leaving for Beijing, Wu told the media that they discussed details of the proposed BRICS satellite constellation, as all the member countries accepted India’s proposal.

Meanwhile, Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Kiran Kumar stressed that India and China, the two regional space powers who were locked in a 21st century Asian space race, decided to join hands mainly to combat the threat of climate change with the help of other BRICS members. According to Kumar, it is important for the five countries to have “a virtual remote sensing satellite constellation”.

The ISRO chairman congratulated the Indian and Chinese governments for trying to negotiate an amenable Paris Agreement on Climate Change, saying that the threat of a warming globe encouraged the two space powers to warm up to each other. Kumar believes that it will be a successful project, as both India and China have made considerable progress, as far as space research is concerned. While China sent its Chang’e-1 satellite to the moon in 2007, India sent a satellite to the orbit of Mars in 2014. Now, the two Asian neighbours come together and collaborate with each other on a crucial project. During their meeting in New Delhi, other BRICS member countries confirmed their participation in the construction of the virtual constellation in order to protect the human race.

For Pakistan, it becomes really difficult to accept the reality that China and India forge a partnership in sharing space technology. The political leadership in Islamabad may also realise that they made a mistake by opting out of the SAARC Satellite project and by aiding and abetting cross border terrorism on India.

Even, head of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) General Charles Bolden welcomed India’s initiative. “We are on an incredible journey together today – a journey of breath taking exploration and that is probably the greatest thing that exploration does – it brings us together… (this is about) about turning science fiction into science fact and making the impossible possible,” Bolden said while speaking at the recently-held New Delhi Space Summit.

Koushik Das, based in the Indian capital of New Delhi, is a senior news editor with more than 15 years of experience. He also runs a blog - Boundless Ocean of Politics. E-Mail: [email protected]