Skip to main content

India prepares to launch first unmanned moon mission: Chandrayaan-1

India is to launch its first unmanned mission to the Moon this month as it struggles to catch up with China in a 21st-century Asian version of the space race between the United States and Soviet Union.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) announced yesterday that it would fire a locally made rocket bearing the lunar spacecraft Chandrayaan-1 from a launchpad in southeastern India on October 22, weather permitting.

The launch could be delayed until October 26 if conditions are not right over the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, 63 miles (125km) from the city of Madras. It was planned originally for April, but was postponed repeatedly because of technical problems with the £47 million project, which involves several foreign countries, including the United States.

The 1.38tonne spacecraft will take approximately eight days to travel about 240,000 miles before reaching its final orbit 60 miles above the surface of the Moon, ISRO officials say.

It will then orbit for almost two years, using high-resolution remote sensing to compile a three-dimensional atlas of the Moon and analyse the composition of its surface, among other things.

It will also send a small impact probe to the surface.

Chandrayaan-1 will carry 11 payloads; five pieces of equipment from ISRO and six from foreign agencies, including Nasa and the European Space Agency. ISRO technicians will track the mission from a deep space network station in the village of Byalalu, about 25 miles from the southern city of Bangalore.

Critics say it is a waste of money for a country where 800 million out of a population of 1.1 billion live on less than $2 a day and where child malnutrition is on a par with that of sub-Saharan Africa. Advocates of India’s space programme, however, argue that ISRO makes money from commercial satellite launches and its scientific benefits have played a key role in the development of the country’s information technology industry.

They say that India is lagging far behind China, which completed its first manned space flight in 2003 and launched a lunar satellite in October last year. Last month a Chinese astronaut completed a 15-minute space walk for the first time.

ISRO, founded in 1969, is now aiming to put the first Indian into space by 2014 and to launch a manned lunar mission by 2020 – four years ahead of China’s target date. The Indian agency’s next step is to launch a second unmanned lunar mission – Chandrayaan-2 – in 2011, comprising an orbiting spacecraft, a lander and a Moon rover.

Gopal Raj, the author of a history of the Indian space programme, said ISRO’s timeframe was unrealistic, but hailed this month’s launch as a breakthrough, nonetheless. “For India, this is an important milestone,” he said. “If you want to do space exploration, the Moon is where you have to start.”

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

LCA's Naval version prepares to roll out

India's first indigenous Naval Light Combat Aircraft, the LCA (Navy) NP1 is scheduled to roll out from the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Aircraft Research and Design Centre (ARDC) design hangar on July 6.The Defence Ministry has said that the aircraft will be an important milestone for the prestigious Naval Program of Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), Bangalore.The Chief of The Naval Staff Admiral Nirmal Verma would be the Chief Guest at the function.'Roll-Out' is a significant milestone when the aircraft is brought out of the build hangar, where the aircraft is actually assembled part by part, ready for the phase of systems integration tests leading to Ground runs, taxi trials and flight.Once the ground based tests are completed, the NP1 is expected to fly by the end of this year and the NP2 is likely to fly by the end of 2011.The aircraft, with state of the art technologies and punch, is designed to operate from the future Indigenous aircraft carriers the Navy…

Intercontinental ballistic missiles well within reach

Advanced Systems Laboratory (ASL) is the deceptively bland name that obscures from public view the Defence Research & Development  Organisation’s (DRDO’s) most glamorous laboratory. At the DRDO missile complex here in Hyderabad, ASL develops the ballistic missiles that, in the ultimate nuclear nightmare, will carry Indian nuclear weapons to targets — thousands of kilometres away. Foreign collaboration is seeping into many areas of R&D, but ASL’s technological domain — the realm of strategic ballistic missiles — is something that no country parts with, for love or for money. No foreigner would ever set foot in ASL.
But Business Standard has been allowed an exclusive visit. The erudite, soft-spoken director of ASL, Dr V G Sekharan, describes the technologies that were developed for the DRDO’s new, 5,000-kilometre range Agni-5 missile, which was tested flawlessly in April. He reveals nothing except restraint stood between India and an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that…

GSLV Mark III with crew module launched successfully

India successfully launched its biggest ever rocket on Thursday, including an unmanned capsule which could one day send astronauts into space, the latest accomplishment of its ramped-up space programme.
The rocket, designed to carry heavier communication and other satellites into higher orbit, blasted off from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.
On Twitter, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the test mission as "yet another triumph of (the) brilliance and hard work of our scientists."
"This was a very significant day in the history of (the) Indian space programme," Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman KS Radhakrishnan said from mission control as fellow scientists clapped and cheered.
ISRO scientists have been riding high since an Indian spacecraft successfully reached Mars in September on a shoe-string budget, winning Asia's race to the Red Planet and sparking an outpouring of national pride.
Although India has successfully launched lighter satellit…