The (indian) tricolour landed on the Moon at 8.31 pm on Friday, opening a new chapter in the history of India’s space exploration.I'm old enough to remember the US Ranger lunar impacts starting in 1962, and the Surveyor soft-landing probes that followed them - though not the Soviet Luna E-1A that first delivered the Red Flag to the moon in 1959. I was a bit young then, less than 2.
Other entities which have reached the Moon are the US, former Soviet Union, Japan (albeit via a malfunction that sent its orbiter crashing onto the lunar surface) and the European Space Agency (17 nations). India becomes the fifth member of this club.
The tricolour was painted on all sides of the 29 kg Moon Impact Probe (MIP) which was attached to the top portion of the main lunar orbiter, Chandrayaan.
ISRO officials told TOI that the countdown for the MIP’s much-awaited flight to the surface of the Moon began at 7.47 pm.
Kalam’s rationale for including the MIP was that since Chandrayaan was orbiting the Moon at an altitude of 100 km above the lunar surface, a landing would make India’s presence felt on the Moon’s surface. He believed that if this was done, India could always stake a claim to a portion of the Moon.
It seems to me that the expressed ambition of the Indian Space Research Organisation to have a Man in space (not Man on the moon as the Indian media trumpets) by 2015 is realistic and achievable.
The important issue though is that India, like China, is quite literally staking a claim. I don't expect them to ratify the UN Moon Treaty any time soon. None of the other spacefaring nations have, after all.
For more on the same lines, see the history of the Antarctic Treaty System, and the Outer Space Treaty. So far it hasn't resembled the Wild West, but so far, the Earth hasn't been desperate for Energy.
For a reason why it's liable to be a contentious issue - as contentious as exploring for Fossil Fuels in the Antarctic - just look at Helium-3. Of course
The primary objective of Indian Space Research Organization's first lunar probe called Chandrayaan-I, launched on October 22, 2008, was reported in some sources to be mapping the Moon's surface for helium-3-containing minerals. However, this is erroneous; no such objective is mentioned in the project's official list of objectives.Sure it's erroneous. Anyone want to buy this nice Harbour Bridge I have for sale?