India's Chandrayaan-1 (चंद्रयान) moon probe launching soon

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

It's getting a lot more attention than the average spacecraft launch due to this being India's first foray into this type of exploration. It's very exciting to see. Apparently it'll be going up in about seven hours from now.

The launch of Chandrayaan-1 (चंद्रयान), as the vehicle is called (it means, roughly translated, “Moon Craft-1”) comes about a year after China’s first moon mission. The Indian mission is scheduled to last for two years, prepare a three-dimensional atlas of the moon and prospect its surface for natural resources, including uranium, a coveted fuel for nuclear power plants, according to the Indian Space Research Organization, or I.S.R.O. Allusions to an Asian space race could not be contained, even as Manmohan Singh, the Indian prime minister, was due for a visit to China later in the week.

“China has gone earlier, but today we are trying to catch them, catch that gap, bridge the gap,” Bhaskar Narayan, a director at I.S.R.O., told Reuters.
There's a lot of wistfulness among space advocates for the space race between the USA and the USSR, simply for the amount of progress made during that time and the huge amount of money the two nations were willing to sink into space development then. That sort of race won't be happening here, but a bit of competition can only help things. Now the Moon has been visited by a Chinese and Japanese probe, then India, and who knows, maybe Korea will one day decide to step things up past their current goals (they currently plan to start sending unmanned probes into space ten years from now).

BBC World also has a video here.


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