9 Oct : As India readies to launch its first unmanned lunar mission on 22nd October, space authorities are awaiting the green signal from the government for the country’s maiden human space flight planned around 2015.
The excitement is palpable in this spaceport of India ahead of the launch of Chandrayaan I which the Indian Space Research Organisation(ISRO) says IS aimed at unravelling many secrets of the moon.
Preparations are in full swing at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SHAR), about 100 km from Chennai, and weather permitting India’s first spacecraft mission beyond earth orbit is slated to be launched onboard India’s workhorse rocket PSLV-C11 at 6.20 a.m on 22nd October.
A project report on the human space flight is ready and is awaiting final approval from the government, SHAR Director M P Dathan said.For the proposed human space flight (manned mission) programme, Dathan said there will be a new launchpad–the third–at Sriharikota.
Dathan said the indigenously built geosynchronous launch vehicle will be upgraded to undertake this mission.According to ISRO officials,this human space flight is expected in 2015.
On critics questioning the need for a moon mission by India after several countries have undertaken similar ventures in the past, ISRO officials said though dozens of manned and unmanned spacecraft have explored the moon, this does not mean that every important aspect of the moon is known to humans or is fully understood by them.
On the contrary, they said there are many secrets which the moon is yet to reveal.
These concerns the origin and evolution of the moon,very detailed understanding of the mineralogy of the moon, abundance of Helium-3, said to be a relatively clean fuel for the future nuclear fusion reactor.