The curtain shrouding the Indo-Russian rocket deal seems to be lifting at last with U R Rao, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), reiterating recently that the deal was "very much on". Work on developing the engine jointly is proceeding on schedule and India has "made the initial Rs 70 crore payment", Rao disclosed.
Earlier, India, in a defiant gesture, tested the Agni missile for the second time. This again elicited the expected hostile reaction from USA, which has blacklisted six Indian space programmes, namely, Agni, Prithvi, Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-3), Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle (ASLV), Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), and Geo-stationary Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV).
However, Rao has stated that the US ban will not cause much damage. In areas like microprocessors, alternative sources are available, he pointed out. He said that the PSLV is expected to go up by March next year. The INSAT-2A launch from Kourou in French Guyana aboard the Ariane Vehicle has been set for July 10 this year.
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