Sun, Aug 17, 2003
New Delhi Plans Moon Mission By 2008
If Indian Prime Minister Atal
Behari Vajpayee has his way, India will soon join a very few
nations in sending a probe to the moon.
Vajpayee made the announcement in his Independence Day speech
Friday. "India is ready to take a big leap in science," Vajpayee
said. "I am happy to announce that before 2008 India will send a
mission to the moon."
The Chandrayan-1 mission envisages placing a satellite in a
polar orbit 60 miles above the moon. The satellite will
be launched using a modified version of India's indigenous Polar
Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). The spacecraft will initially be
launched into Geo-synchronous Transfer Orbit, and subsequently
maneuvered into its final lunar orbit using its own propulsion
system. The main objectives of Chandrayan-1 include obtaining
imagery of the moon's surface using high-resolution remote sensing
instruments in the visible, near infrared, low and high-energy
X-ray regions. Furthermore, considering the interest expressed by
the international scientific community, a provision has also been
made to accommodate instruments from other countries.
The mission is expected to cost India $80 million, a tidy sum
for a nation still struggling with issues like homelessness and
starvation. But, for India, it is a matter of pride. Still, critics
say the program is wasteful in the face of India's domestic
problems and won't glean any new scientific information.
Only the US and Russia have so far sent probes to the moon.
China has announced it will send an unmanned mission to Luna within
the next three years.
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