Sunday, October 19, 2008

Excitement in Asia as Chandrayaan countdown begins

From Asia Minor to Djakarta, chatter about India's scheduled launch of the second full-scale lunar orbiter in a year in increasing daily. If NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter had been launched in the same time frame, as originally intended, it's doubtful the excitement would have been muted. India's confidence is justified.

Even Tehran is taking notice, picking up on the AFP story.

India's unmanned lunar mission ready for launch

Tehran Times SRIHARIKOTA, India (AFP) -- India is making final preparations for its first mission to the moon, officials said over the weekend.

Lunar spacecraft Chandrayaan-1 will be launched on October 22 by a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) from the Sriharikota space centre in the country's south. “All checks on the vehicle have been completed. The vehicle is now ready to receive the satellite,” T. Subba Reddy, manager of the second launch pad, told reporters in Sriharikota. The mission will involve three stages -- the lift-off from the space centre, raising the spacecraft into the lunar orbit and a series of experiments in the next two years.

A team of meteorologists will start monitoring the weather six days ahead of the launch. “The launch vehicle is rain-proof. Only a cyclone can pose problems,” range safety officer V. Krishnamurthy said. India will share the data collected during the mission with other countries. “This is an exploratory mission in search of the mineral, geological and chemical characteristics of the lunar surface,” M.Y.S Prasad, associate director of the launch centre said. The space craft will conduct a lunar orbit at a distance of 385,000 kilometres (240,000 miles) from Earth.