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`Indian astronaut on US spaceship unlikely for now'

Our Bureau

Bangalore, May 9

A manned Indian mission to the Moon or even putting an `Indonaut' on a US space flight seems to be off for now, going by the statements made by the chiefs of ISRO and NASA here on Tuesday.

The Department of Space Secretary, Mr G. Madhavan Nair, said technocrats were now evaluating robotic missions in the future over a manned one.

"We have not made up our mind on a manned mission" and a decision would be taken in a year, he told a news conference.

The NASA Administrator, Dr Michael Griffin, in response to a query on taking an Indian on its flights, said, "There are no seats available for the next four years.

"We can train Indian astronauts but cannot promise a flight.

"India has decided not to invest (in training by NASA)." Their upcoming missions, he said, were limited to completing the International Space Station and a Hubble trip.

Indian-funded space flight training at NASA for Indians with the prospect of a space trip had come up during the Prime Minister's US visit in September 2005.

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