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ESSAY : Chandrayaan-I; India's First Mission to the Moon
Wednesday, 17 July 2013 04:35

Chandrayaan-I; India's First Mission to the Moon

“The launch was perfect and precise. The satellite has been placed in the earth orbit. With this, we have completed the first leg of the mission and it will take 15 days to reach the lunar orbit”, G Madhavan Nair Chairman ISRO.

Chardrayaan-I, is India’s First Mission to the Moon, launched by India’s national space agency the Indian space Research Organization (ISRO). The unmanned lunar exploration mission included a lunar orbiter and an impactor, was launched on 22nd October, 2008 from Satish Shawan Space Centre, Sirharikota, Andhra Pradesh at 06:23IST. The vehicle was successfully inserted into lunar orbit on 8th November, 2008. Chardrayaan-I is the first Indian Mission to the Moon devoted to high resolution remote sensing of the lunar surface features in visible, near infra-red, X-ray and low energy gamma ray regions.

The Moon Impact Probe was successfully impacted at the lunar south pole at 20:31 hours on 14th November 2008. The estimated cost for the project is Rs. 386 crore. The remote sensing satellite had a mass of 1,380 kilogram (3,042 Ib) at launch equipment for visible, near infra-red and soft and hard X-ray frequencies. Over a two-year period, it is intended to survey the lunar surface to produce a complete map of its chemical characteristics and 3-dimensional topography. The Polar Regions are of special interest, as they might contain ice. The lunar mission carries five ISRO payloads and six payloads from other international space agencies including NASA, ESA and t he Bulgarian Aerospace Agency, which were carried free of cost. The mission is expected to have an operational life of about two years.

Indian Space Research Organization Chairman G. Madhavan Nair described the successful launch as a historic moment in India’s space programme. “The launch was perfect and precise. The satellite has been placed in the earth orbit. With this, we have completed the first leg of the mission and it will take fifteen days to reach the lunar orbit.” Nair announced in the mission control centre shortly after PSLV-C11 put the spacecraft in a transfer orbit.

The successful launch of the India’s maiden mission to moon Chardrayaan-I is ‘just the beginning’ of the opening up of a new frontier of cooperation between the US and India on a wide range of sectors, the United States, Indian Business Council (USIBC) said on Wednesday.

“It is an extraordinary moment in history. We have an India of 1.3 billion people looking to the heavens and now exploring the frontiers of Space.” USIBC president Ron Somers told Press Trust of Indian upon the launch of Chardrayaan-I.

The lift off of Chardrayaan-I was lustily cheered at the US Chamber of Commerce where the USIBC had organized a live broadcast of the historic occasion that saw the participation of officials from the White House, the State Department, the NASA and senior officials of the Indian Embassy.

The USIBC even also saw the participation of the Indian American community who were clearly thrilled. “It is a great day in our history. I think it will beckon a whole new era in technological cooperation between our countries”, Somers said.

Chardrayaan-I aims at achieving expansion of scientific knowledge about Moon, up gradation of Indian technological capability and providing challenging opportunities for planetary research to young scientists.

The objectives would be achieved through high resolution remote sensing of moon in the visible, near infra-red, microwave and x-ray region of electromagnetic spectrum.

The eleven payloads, five designed and developed in India, three from European Space Agency, one From Bulgaria and two from NASA, would expand various scientific knowledge about the moon.

The Indian payloads included Terrain Mapping Camera. Hyperspectrual Imager, Lunar Laser Ranging Instrument, High Energy X-ray Spectrometer and Moon Impact Probe. Chardrayaan-I was built at ISRO’s Satellite Centre Bangalur, with contribution from various wings of the space agency, including the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre in Thirvanathapuram. The ground facilities of Chardrayaan-I would perform the highly important task of receiving the microwave containing the health information of the spacecraft as well as the valuable scientific information, which the spacecraft sends. It also transmits the radio commands to be sent to the spacecraft during all the phases of its mission.

After two weeks of journey India’s first unmanned lunar spacecraft Chardrayaan-I entered the lunar orbit on Saturday (Nov. 8, 2008) evening. It started at 16:50 hrs IST and within 14 minutes, it entered lunar orbit. It is now 504 km from moon. ISRO says the most critical operation is successful. With this development, India’s Moon Mission has been declared successful.

On Nov. 14, 2008 the Indian space programme achieved a unique feat with the placing of the Indian tricolor on the Moon’s surface. The Indian flag was painted on the sides of MIP, one of 11 payloads of Chardrayaan-I spacecraft that successfully hit the lunar surface at 20:31 hrs. this is the first Indian built object to reach the surface of the moon Mr.  G Madhavan Nair said, “I am extremely happy that the nation has responded very positively to this event (MIP landing and Chardrayaan-I)”, Nair, also the Secretary in the Department of Space, said. Nair said Chardrayaan-I was a coup of sorts in the branding stakes and ISRO’s brand has skyrocketed with India’s first unmanned Moon Mission. “ISRO’s name has been high all time. This is another significant event. I am sure in the global community, we will have much more respect than what was (there) in the past”, he said.

The Chardrayaan-I Mission has sent a clear signal internationally that India is really a space power and it means business. “That message has been given to everybody”, Nair said, PTI.