India to launch lunar mission this month
INDIA: India will launch its first lunar mission on October 22
from southern India, a top official from the country’s space agency said
The announcement came a week after Asian rival China said it was
setting its sights on a manned trip to the moon after completing a
historic mission that included the country’s first space walk.
“We have set October 22 as the tentative date for the launch of lunar
spacecraft Chandrayaan-1, though the launch window will be kept open
till October 26,” Indian Space Research Organisation director S. Satish
“Weather permitting, the launch will take place around 6:30 am (0100
GMT).” The launch of the unmanned robotic mission was originally planned
for April but was postponed because of technical reasons, local news
reports said earlier this year.
India will join Japan and China in moon exploration with the planned
mission. The spacecraft will conduct a lunar orbit at a distance of
385,000 kilometres (240,000 miles) from Earth.
Last year, China’s Chang’e I lunar satellite took off on October 24
after Japan launched its Kaguya lunar orbiter on September 14. Last
month, millions in China watched as astronaut Zhai Zhigang, 41, embarked
on a 15-minute space walk, during which he waved a Chinese flag in the
weightlessness of low orbit some 340 kilometres (210 miles) above the
India’s first robotic mission, budgeted at 90 million dollars, will
be followed by another in 2012, ISRO has said. A timetable for a manned
mission will be announced this year.
Spacefaring nations are accelerating their quest to reach the moon
more than three decades after the last human landing, and use it as a
springboard to explore planets beyond. The US Apollo programme resulted
in the only manned spaceflights to the moon, with six landings from 1969