New Delhi: In an attempt to promote indigenous researches on space technology, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has set up a regional academic centre for space at the National Institute of Technology (NIT-K) at Surathkal in Karnataka, about 380km from Bengaluru, an official said on Saturday.

In collaboration with the engineering institute, ISRO signed the agreement on the industry-academic tie-up on Friday at Surathkal.

“The centre at NIT-K will conduct joint research and development in space technology applications to meet the needs of our space programmes,” ISRO Director for Capacity Building P.V. Venkitakrishnan said in a statement in Bengaluru.

The space agency is expected to provide Rs 2 crore grant annually to NIT for the R&D projects and promotional activities through the year.

“The centre, fourth in the country, will also facilitate promoting space technology in the southern states, including Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and Telangana and be an ambassador for capacity-building, awareness and research and development (R&D),” said Venkitakrishnan.

A joint policy and management committee will guide the centre in optimal utilisation of the research potential, infrastructure, expertise and experience of the space agency and the autonomous institute. Moreover, ISRO’s visiting scientists and experts in space technology and NIT faculty members and researchers will direct the centre’s activities, including projects, the director said.

“The committee will plan activities like research programmes of common interest and reviewing their projects periodically,” he added.

NIT K. Umamashewara Rao also commented on the initiative and said, “Students of under-graduation (B.Tech) and post-graduation (M.Tech) will be involved in one-year short-term research projects and 2-4 year long-term projects in advance space programmes.”

The intellectual property rights (patent) generated in the projects will be jointly owned by ISRO and NITK. The other three such centres are Malaviya National Institute of Technology at Jaipur in Rajasthan, Gauhati University in Assam’s state capital and Kurukshetra University at Thanesar in Haryana.

In a related development, the city-based space agency also tied up with the state-run Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) for cooperating to develop space situational awareness.

“The agreement envisages utilisation of IIA’s expertise in astrophysics and astronomy for developing advanced technologies for inter-planetary space explorations,” said the space agency’s scientific secretary R. Umamaheswaran.

Both the academic and research institutions will also collaborate in setting up optical telescope facilities under the Netra project for space object tracking, studying space weather, asteroids and near-earth objects.

“Collaboration will help us progress in various fields of astrophysics and astronomy,” said IIA Director Annapurni Subramaniam on the occasion.