New Delhi, India (XNA) Sep 02, 2009
Less than a year after its launch, India's first unmanned lunar mission, Chandrayan I, knocked off the country's endeavor to assert its power in space, after it lost radio contact with the mission control following a technical glitch believed to have been caused by a burst of sun spot activity.
Though the state-run Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) hailed the moon mission a "great success" despite abandoning it midway, experts have claimed that the mission, which put India in an elite club of countries - the United States, Russia, Japan, China and members of the European Space Agency - and was expected to last two years, has shattered India's dream of taking the first key stride towards landing an unmanned moon rover by 2012.
"The 100 million U.S. dollar moon mission survived for only 315days. It was scheduled for two years. Now, the satellite is to crash onto the lunar surface. It's a great loss to India's space explorations. The abandoning of the mission has dashed the country's most ambitious effort in space explorations. It was a major boost to the country's space program, particularly with India competing with Asian nations like China and Japan in this field," said space analyst R.K. Roy.
The Chandrayan I vehicle was launched in October 2008 and successfully inserted into lunar orbit on Nov. 8, 2008. On Nov. 14,2008, the Moon Impact Probe separated from the Moon-orbiting Chandrayaan at 20:06 Indian Standard Time and impacted the lunar south pole in a controlled manner, making India the fourth country to place its flag on the Moon.
India Sunday formally called off the Chandrayaan-1 moon mission, with the ISRO losing its radio contact with the craft.
"There was no possibility of retrieving it. (But) it was a great success. We could collect a large volume of data, including more than 70,000 images of the moon. In that sense, 95 percent of the objective was completed," ISRO chief Madhavan Nair told media in Panaji, the capital of western state of Goa.
"Most of the missions are expensive between one and 2 billion U.S. dollars. India can be proud as Chandrayaan-1 was less than 100 million U.S. dollar mission. We started the Indian mission inviting queries, the response was very good. We spent 85 million U.S dollars, while 30 million U.S. dollars were spent by the other partners. No country has done mission of this kind for less than 500 million U.S. dollars," Nair had said.
However, not everybody agrees with that.
"Whatever the ISRO says, the mission is a great loss for India, both monetarily and scientifically. Many did not welcome the efforts in the beginning when it was launched, saying it's a waste of resources in a country where millions still lack basic services. But we the scientific fraternity took it in a positive stride. But, it now shows that India still lacks in expertise. They should have anticipated these glitches which the mission can face," said Mumbai-based scientist Deb Sharma.
"It's unbelievable, the mission that was expected to last for two years, could not complete even a year. What is this? Hardly people know that one focus was to prospect the lunar surface for natural resources, including uranium for nuclear fuel. And, ISRO is saying that it's a great success, all this to save face," he added.
But justifying ISRO's efforts and pinning hope on the collected data, Professor Narendra Bhandari, a member of science advisory board of Chandrayaan-1, told media, "it is difficult to ascertain reasons for loss of contact. We've excelled in departments like propulsion system, reaching the moon in a precise manner. However, the thermal profiling and the sun sensors on the satellite did not give the expected result. The most important thing for us now is to ascertain answers from the collected data."
Local media too commented on the Chandrayan's failure. "India's lunar honeymoon is over," the country's leading English daily The Times of India said.
Political analyst Prof. Ajay Singh commented on the issue like this: "For a lay man, the mission is equally important as that to a scientist. It's a something that gave India a cut above others. But, scientists are trying to justify that a two-year mission could complete 95 percent of its work in less than a year. This is just an excuse."
The fact is that India's first rendezvous with the moon was cut short halfway due to some unexplained mishap. Clearly, lessons are to be learned before the launch of Chandrayan-2, he added.
Source: Xinhua News Agency
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India suffers blow to space ambitions
Bangalore, India (AFP) Aug 29, 2009
India's first moon mission, launched amid much fanfare last year, came to an abrupt end Saturday after controllers lost contact with the country's lunar craft, the national space agency said. India launched an unmanned satellite and put a probe on the moon's surface late last year in an event that the national space agency hoped would give the country international "brand recognition" in the ... read more
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