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Moon mission launched
October 23, 2008, 7:07 am
Filed under: satellite | Tags: ,

Sriharikota, Oct. 22 Chandrayaan-1, the Indian satellite that would take a peek at the moon from close quarters, was carried into space this morning by the PSLV-C11 rocket, amid threats to the launch from a particularly bad weather.

Low, dark clouds capable of striking down the rocket with thunderbolts, loomed menacingly in the morning sky at the Sriharikota range, but a Providential let-up in the inclement conditions made way for the historic launch.

Usually, the rockets form a beautiful spectacle in the sky with their long plume of fire, but today the PSLV-C11 could be seen barely for a couple of seconds before it disappeared into the clouds. The signature growl that rent the air was the only evidence of its brief presence before it bade farewell to the earth.


“We have opened a new chapter in the history of Indian space programme,” Mr G Madhavan Nair, Chairman, Indian Space Research Organisation, said at a press conference after the launch.

This mission has two key distinctions. First, this is the first time an Indian satellite is going out of earth’s active gravitational field – into an area where its trajectory would be influenced by the pull of the moon, sun and other celestial bodies. While the earth’s gravity would continue to act upon the satellite, it would also be subject to various other pulls. It is a ‘first’ for Indian scientists, one that will reward them richly with learnings for handling objects in deep space.

Second, the satellite is the most complex one ever built (anywhere in the world, says Mr Nair), with 11 instruments for c

arrying out scientific experiments. One of them, bearing the Indian tricolour motif, will crash-land on the moon next month, but not before sending some pictures from near.

Right now the satellite is circling the earth, but over the next two weeks, scientists will keep nudging it into larger orbits until it reaches the moon. Its designated position is a polar orbit around the moon, some 100 km from the lunar surface, where it will remain in service for two years.

The Rs 386-crore project will help Indian scientists study the moon for the mineral composition and any presence of water. Since the Chandrayaan will move up and down the moon as the moon itself rotates sideways, the satellite will have a ringside view of the entire lunar surface, over time. “In two years, we will have the entire map of the moon,” Mr Nair said.


CHANDRAYAAN-1: India’s first mission to the Moon
October 16, 2008, 12:12 pm
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Chandrayaan I, India’s spacecraft which is to take off for the moon, is on its way to SHAR, ie, Sriharikota Range, to be integrated with PSLV-C11. The 50-hour countdown to the launch of Chandrayaan will start on the night of October 19

At Sriharikota, Chandrayaan will be put through its paces on the ground. Indian Satellite Research Organisation (Isro) scientists will check how its solar panels will deploy. It will also undergo electrical and mechanical tests. Chandrayaan had earlier undergone preliminary thermal and vibration tests at Isro Satellite Centre (ISAC) in Bangalore.

For security threats arising from Naxalites and other possible extremist attacks, the exact location of Chandrayaan is being kept under wraps even as it is being provided tightest possible security, according to sources in Isro. Chandrayaan is expected to reach SHAR in a day or two.

The upgraded version of PSLV, PSLV-C11, which has a lift-off weight of 316 tonnes, will be used to inject the 1,304-kg mass spacecraft into a 240 x 24,000 km orbit.

The main objective of Chandrayaan-I is investigation of the distribution of various minerals and chemical elements and high-resolution three-dimensional mapping of the entire lunar surface. ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) will launch Chandrayaan-I into a 240 km x 24,000 km earth orbit. Subsequently, the spacecraft’s own propulsion system will be used to place it in a 100-km polar orbit around the moon.

M Annadurai, project chief, Chandrayaan, had said earlier: “This will be the first step towards our manned mission to the moon.”

The remote sensing satellite will weigh 1,304 kg (590 kg initial orbit mass and 504 kg dry mass) and carry high-resolution remote sensing equipment for visible, near infrared, soft and hard X-ray frequencies. Over its expected lifetime of two years, it will survey the lunar surface and produce a map of its chemical characteristics and three-dimensional topography.

The project, expected to cost Rs 386 crore, will study the surface of the moon using light. Many other countries are also looking at the possibility of mining the abundant mineral resources on the moon