Thu, Oct 23, 2008
Chandrayaan-1 Probe To Land On Lunar Surface
The Asian Space Race got as little
tighter Wednesday, as India reported the successful launch of its
first lunar mission.
Agence-France Presse reports cheers rang out at mission control
as the unmanned lunar orbiting spacecraft Chandrayaan-1 was
launched with an Indian-built rocket from the Satish Dhawan Space
Centre in Sriharikota on the country's southeastern coast.
Officials said the launch happened under cloudy skies at 6:22 am
local time, and just 19 minutes later the spacecraft was
successfully placed in its transfer orbit around the earth.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was in Japan for an
official visit at the time, and commented, "Our scientific
community has once again done the country proud and the entire
nation salutes them."
Madhavan Nair, head of the Indian Space Research Organization,
called the launch a historic moment. "It has been a remarkable
performance by the launch vehicle."
The mission includes plans to land a probe on the lunar surface.
In a stark contrast to costs in more established space programs,
AFP reports India is spending only $80 million for the entire
mission... a figure that would make NASA, and its Congressional
India joins regional neighbors in a race which has recently seen
China's first spacewalk, Japan's first lunar mission, and South
Korea's first successful launch of a commercial satellite in
All four nations are leveraging their achievements in space to
spotlight economic and technological growth. China and Japan both
hope to land men on the moon by about 2020.
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