Defence

Joe Biden once said Russia selling space rockets to India was ‘dangerous’

With both US President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, in the final lap of campaigning for next month’s election, the respective campaigns are reaching out to all ethnic groups. Much attention has been focussed on the Indian-American community, with both candidates touting their credentials with ‘desis’.

A key element of their outreach to the Indian-American community has been their respective policy positions and past record with India. Joe Biden has already faced some criticism over controversial statements on Jammu and Kashmir and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.

On Tuesday, BJP MP Subramanian Swamy shared an article from The Frustrated Indian on Joe Biden blocking the sale of Russian cryogenic engine technology to India in 1992.

Background

India signed a contract worth Rs 235 crore with Glavkosmos, the Soviet Union’s space agency, in January 1991 to buy seven cryogenic engines, along with technology transfer for these systems, for the Geostationary Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) project.

In a cryogenic engine, both the fuel and oxidiser are in liquid form and stored at very-low temperatures. They are much more efficient and provide more thrust for every kilogram of propellant they burn compared with “solid and earth-storable liquid propellant rocket stages”, according to ISRO. This makes them optimal to power rockets carrying heavy payloads, such as satellites weighing in excess of two tonnes.

“However, cryogenic stage is technically a very complex system compared to solid or earth-storable liquid propellant stages due to its use of propellants at extremely low temperatures and the associated thermal and structural problems,” ISRO’s webpage on cryogenic engines explains.

The decision to opt for an imported solution was made given the worry that it would take about 15 years to develop an indigenously developed cryogenic engine.

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