India will, for the first time, join hands with China to develop remote sensing satellites. Indian Space Research Organization (Isro) chairman K Radhakrishnan told TOI that an agreement in this regard was signed two days ago.

Right from the initial days of its space program in the 1960s, India had collaborated with the US, USSR (now Russia) and some European countries, but Isro never had a tie-up with China. Radhakrishnan said space scientists of the two countries would work together to prepare a roadmap for a series of missions to be implemented together. “A joint team will begin work in the coming weeks and the road map will be ready by April 2015.”

The agreement aims at encouraging cooperation for “peaceful purposes”, and a lot of emphasis will be on research and development, including in communication satellites. “We look forward to it as both the countries are crucial in creating a strong space presence in Asia. There were some steps in 1991, but nothing much happened. This is a concrete step forward,” Radhakrishnan said.

On areas of focus, the Isro chairman said remote sensing would be a natural choice since it has applications in disaster preparedness and management.