22 Oct :Scripting a new chapter in its space programme, India on Wednesday launched its maiden unmanned mission to moon ‘Chandrayaan-I’, a research project that propels the country into an exclusive global club of six moon faring nations.
"It is a historic moment as far as India is concerned. We have started our journey to the moon and the first leg of the journey has gone perfectly well," an ecstatic ISRO Chairman G Madhavan Nair said soon after the indigenously built rocket PSLV C-11 blasted off from the spaceport at Sriharikota in cloudy but rainless weather.The spacecraft was put into orbit exactly 18.2 minutes after the textbook launch at 6.22 a.m.From the second launch pad of Satish Dhawan Space Centre in this island in the Bay of Bengal, about 100 km north of Chennai.
With the successful launch, India became the sixth country after the US, Russia, European Space Agency, China and Japan to launch a moon odyssey.At Rs 386 crore, the Indian mission is considered to be the cheapest in the world which will help generate the first-ever comprehensive maps of the earth’s only natural satellite.
The 44.4 metre tall four-stage PSLV rocket injected the spacecraft in the earth orbit from where it would be guided about 3,87,000 km away from the earth to the circular lunar orbit, 100 kms from the moon’s surface, by 8th November.
The spacecraft is carrying 11 instruments, including six international experiments, which will help prepare the first comprehensive map of the moon.President Pratibha Patil, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha L K Advani congratulated the space scientists on the successful launch.
ISRO eyes manned Moon mission by 2015 Buoyed by the successful launch of Chandrayaan-1, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has said it would gear up for the complex and challenging task of the proposed manned mission to the moon by 2015.
"Now we have a little bit of breathing time (after today’s launch)… We are looking how we can design a capsule, which can carry two astronauts onboard a GSLV rocket," ISRO Chairman G Madhavan Nair said at a post-launch press meet in Sriharikota on Wednesday.
"This is a very complex and challenging task… First of all to conceive a module, which can predict the condition of human life in space. It is a big challenge in terms of technology and realisation," he said.
Besides, selecting the astronauts and training them for the space flight and improving the reliability of the launching system were also complex issues, he said.
"After considering all these, we have prepared a project report and this had been cleared by the Space Commission and is awaiting the government approval. Based on this, we will have the first man mission from Indian soil before 2015," Nair said.
On exploring Mars, Nair said the red planet was the next natural destination for ISRO.
"We are looking for proposals from the scientific community. As soon it is available we will try to finalise and plan a mission to the Mars." "GSLV can take a reasonably sized space craft to mars. Technical capability as well as mission planning has just started," he added.
Describing Chandrayaan-1 launch as "really a historic moment for ISRO", Nair said the agency had opened up a new chapter in the history of Indian space programme as well the global community.
Following are the missions to moon in the last two decades:
HITEN — A project of the Japanese Space Agency was launched from the Uchinaoura Space Center in Japan on 24th January 1990.CLEMENTINE — A joint project between the Strategic Defence Initiative Organisation and NASA, was launched from Vandenberg AFB aboard a Titan IIG rocket on 25th January 1994.
ASIASAT 3/HGS-1 — A project funded by Asia Satellite Telecommunications co. Ltd (the Peoples Republic of China) and Pan American Satellite (United States) was launched from Tyuratam in Kazakhstan on 24th Dec 1997.
LUNAR PROSPECTOR — was launched from the Kennedy Space Centre on 7th January 1998.
SMART 1 — was launched from Kourou in French Guiana on 27th September 2003.
KAGUYA — was launched from Tanegashima in Japan on 14th September 2007.
CHANG’E 1 — was launched from Xichang in China on 24th October 2007.
CHANDRAYAAN-I — was launched from Sriharikota in India on 22nd October 2008.