Russian parliament approves space pact with India

Mumbai: The Indo-Russian space co-operation agreement has received the final clearance with the Federation Council, the upper chamber of Russian Federal Assembly, ratifying the treaty by a unanimous vote. This clears the way for joint space exploration and transfer of space technology to India.

The Duma, the lower house of Russian parliament, had ratified the agreement on October 20.

The draft Indo-Russian space cooperation agreement, signed in New Delhi during President Vladimir Putin's visit in December 2004, lays down a mechanism for enhanced cooperation in peaceful exploration of space, including the protection of secret information and intellectual property rights and settling disputes.

Once signed into law, the accord would speed up collaboration in the Global Navigational Satellite System (GLONASS), the alternative to the Pentagon-controlled US Global Positioning System (GPS), sources at Russian Federal Space Agency 'Roskosmos' said.

Under the GLONASS agreement, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will launch Russian navigational satellites Glonass-M using Indian space launch vehicles and jointly develop with Russia a new generation navigational satellite Glonass-K.

Russian defence ministry is also believed to have agreed to give India access to GLONASS's military segment, used for guidance of smart weapons