Image source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The count down to India’s first un-manned mission to Moon, code-named Chandrayaan-I has already begun. The 1.38-tonne spacecraft will take approximately eight days to travel about 386,240km before reaching its final orbit 96km above the surface of the Moon.

The lunar orbiter’s main mission is to look for water and Helium-3. An Indian flag will also be dropped on to the moon. A small probe will be released, which will then hurtle down towards the moon’s surface. The probe will transmit pictures, data regarding the moon’s atmosphere, and then finally data of the soil analysis when it strikes the moon’s surface. This probe will also be carrying the Indian flag.

Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), G. Madhavan Nair has said that this is an ideal launch pad for a mission to Mars. The GSLV rocket can take a nearly 500 kg spacecraft to Mars and hence this is a certainty in the coming 3-4 years. He has given a rough cost estimate of Rs.100 billion for a manned mission.

In the past, India has completed 21 successful rocket launches bearing satellites since 1980. If this mission is successful, then it will make India the fourth country to join U.S., Russia and Japan to have its flag on the moon.

The ISRO chairman gets very defensive when probed about the feasibility of the mission in current economic conditions. He points out that the budget for the entire space program is a miniscule one, when compared to the total budget of the country. Conservative estimates put this mission at less than 300 crore INR.

If the weather permits, we are set for a lift-off at 6.20am on Wednesday morning.

Is India shining? Definitively, if you look at the moon!

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