Chandrayaan, India‘s first mission on moon was successfully launched on Wednesday. The spacecraft is doing fine and has completed four rounds in orbit. With the successful launch, India has now joined the exclusive club of nations who have sent missions to moon. India joined what’s shaping up as a 21st century space race with Chinese and Japanese crafts already in orbit around the moon. This two year mission will definitely establish India’s credentials in Space Technology and at laying the groundwork for further Indian space expeditions.
The successful launch of the mission has made every Indian very proud and it is indeed a great honour for the country to have conceived and implemented a mission on own. As Dr Kasturirangan of ISRO says “The entire space community has worked hard for years for this great leap in space technology. Launch is one aspect. Putting the spacecraft in the lunar orbit about 100 km from the moon’s surface involves intricate manoeuvres at different levels for over 18 days before it is successfully placed in the pre-designated slot.”
The mission demonstrates India’s capability in launch vehicles and sending spacecraft beyond earth’s orbit. It is a proud moment for the Indian space community and all those associated with the mission who have worked day in and day out. Roddam Narasimaiah, member Indian Space Commission, Bangalore believes that the success of the mission will lead to a second wave of adventure in space in line with the vision of the founders of the Indian space programme such as Vikram Sarabhai and Satish Dhawan.
The success of the mission exemplifies the tremendous progress the country has made in science and technology despite poverty and illiteracy on the other side. In the last two decades India has changed the entire perception of the world with becoming a global market or IT/ITES services, emerging economy and now this is another feather in the cap. The fact to cherish is we are steering our destiny but in our own speed and course still we are on the right track.
The critics though have questioned the logic behind such a huge investment on something which already has been done ages before. But the ISRO have made sure that they are innovative in their mission and thus have answered the critics. The world has not carried out serious study of Moon since the early 70s, and with modern instruments our study of moon will be much more comprehensive. Projects like, the Chandrayaan mission also serve to act as a confidence-building exercise among the other potential customer countries who might then consider entrusting us with the launch of their satellites.
The Wikipedia says that the mission objectives are such that Chandrayaan will do what others haven’t till now.
1> To launch and orbit a spacecraft in lunar polar orbit and conduct scientific studies.
2> To carry out high resolution mapping of topographic features in 3D, distribution of various minerals and elemental chemical species including radioactive nuclides covering the entire lunar surface using a set of remote sensing payloads. The new set of data would help in unravelling mysteries about the origin and evolution of solar system in general and that of the moon in particular or on its composition and mineralogy.
3> Realize the mission goal of harnessing the science payloads, lunar craft and the launch vehicle with suitable ground support system including DSN station, integration and testing, launching and achieving lunar orbit of ~100 km, in-orbit operation of experiments, communication/telecommand, telemetry data reception, quick look data and archival for scientific utilization by identified group of scientists.
I have observed that every great thing have been opposed by mediocre people. And this Chandrayaan mission is no different. It is true that for country and people this mission might not yield immediate benefits but it has potential to do that in next decade. The issue will be how well we can use lunar resources.
This is time to celebrate and at the same time help our nation become even greater force at the international level by contributing in every possible progressive way.