Monday, 3 November 2008

India Looks To the Moon

The picture opposite was taken from the Chandrayaan-1 lunar probe launched last week by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), at a altitude of 70,000km.

From Times of India:
A week after its launch, Chandrayaan-1 is now more than halfway towards the Moon with the fourth orbit raising manoeuvre executed flawlessly at 7.38am on Wednesday. The mission lifted off at Sriharikota on October 22.

Isro's telemetry, tracking and command network (Istrac) director S K Shivakumar told TOI during the critical manoeuvre, that the spacecraft's 440 Newton liquid engine was fired for nearly three minutes resulting in the Moon-bound Chandrayaan-1 entering into a more elliptical orbit.

It's apogee (farthest point from Earth) lies at 2,67,000km, while the perigee (nearest point to Earth) is at 465km. Thus, Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft's present orbit extends more than half the way to the Moon, he said.

In this orbit, the spacecraft takes about six days to go round the Earth once. Shivakumar said the next firing will be on Monday which will further raise the spacecraft's altitude to 3,84,000km. The motor will be fired for 2.5 minutes. "This will be the last earthbound firing before the spacecraft enters the lunar orbit on November 8," he said.
India still hasn't initiated a manned space program - but that just puts them on the same effective level as the US at the moment, or near enough. The Shuttle (or Space Transportation System to give it it's formal name) is due for retirement soon - it's already passed its "use by" date - and the replacement Constellation program is looking more and more like a Death March project, that will be put out of its misery in the next Administration's second term. Or perhaps before, if the Democrats control congress. From PolitickerMA :
Frank, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, also said he would cut agricultural subsidies to wealthy farmers. Reducing the amount of money spent on sending humans into space would be another priority, Frank said. "Space exploration is very important and has great scientific and practical results, but sending human beings to Mars and back will cost hundreds of billions of dollars for very little scientific worth."
Who was it who said History repeats itself, the first time as Drama, the second time as Farce?

This mission doesn't put India on the same level as the US, or even Europe. More like Japan. However, if the US manned space program has to be re-started around 2017, it means that the language spoken in the first permanent lunar base will be Mandarin. And it's not that unlikely that one of the languages on the second one will be Hindi.

1 comment:

Nica said...

The way that you are phrasing it here and in other articles, Zoe, is making me think of the colonial period here on earth. Is this what you are intending?