SPACE … Chandrayaan 2 moon mission set for launch in July, landing in September, says ISRO

BENGALURU: Scientists and technical experts at ISRO are getting ready for launch of Chandrayaan 2 — India’s second lunar mission — between July 9 and July 16. It would take less than two months to reach the surface of Moon. The landing could tentatively be on September 6, ISRO has stated. Chandrayaan 2 would remain there for two weeks for conducting scientific experiments to explore the suitability of human habitation and soil conditions, among other aspects.

Chandrayaan 2 mission was to take place last year, and the date was later revised to the beginning of this year due to some design changes. Also, the four-legged Vikram lander suffered damage which needed to be rectified. The US, Russia and China had landed their missions on Moon in the past. India would be the fourth country to do so. China, which initially was not in the Space race, caught up with the key players  in recent years, and in major ways. Israel also is into a Moon mission, but its first attempt failed. China’s Chang’e landed on the Moon in January this year.

Moon’s orbit is 3,82,000km away from Earth’s surface. As per ISRO plan, Chandrayaan 2 will explore the south pole of Moon. Chandrayaan I, launched by India in October 2008, was only a Moon orbiter and did not land on Moon. It took over 3,000 orbits around the Moon and sent loads and loads of pictures and data back to Earth. It operated for 312 days and then got lost before completion of its mission. Yet, it achieved some 95 per cent of its mission objectives, ISRO had stated.

India formally began its Space exploration endeavour in 1962, when visionary leader Jawaharlal Nehru was Prime Minister.  Attempts of various kinds had been made in India by native scientists from time immemorial, but modern-time attempts had started since the 1920s. Scientist SK Mitra was a pioneer, who used ground-based radio-methods in Calcutta. Scientists like CV Raman and Meghnad Saha provided some scientific base to such explorations in later years. 

Near-about the time of Independence, scientist Vikram Sarabhai started the Physical Research Laboratory in Ahmedabad. Homi Bhabha headed the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Bombay. There came the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre. In 1950, when the Department of Atomic Energy was set up, Bhabha became its first secretary. It provided funding for Space research. Year 1957 was a landmark in Space explorations – when the USSR launched Sputnik.

Scientists Vikram Sarabhai and Homi Bhabha were in the forefront of Indian Space efforts in its initial years after Independence, and under Nehru’s encouragement. After seven years of efforts in this direction, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) was set up in 1969 with its base in Bangalore. In 1972, the Centre set up a Space Commission and the Department of Space. ISRO functions under DoS, which is directly under the Office of the Prime Minister.

ISRO built its first rocket, Aryabhatta, named after famous mathematician Aryabhatta in 1975. This was launched by the Soviet Union. By 1980, India built and launched its first satellite, Rohini, from an Indian-made launch vehicle, SLV-3. While Chandrayaan was sent into Space in 2008, a mission to Mars, the Mars Orbiter Mission, was launched in November 2013. It entered the Mars orbit the next year, making India the first nation to have achieved its objective in its first attempt.

ISRO is now into commercial production and sale of satellites for needy nations for weather monitoring, earth studies etc. –IHN-NN

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s