June 20, 2008

Tentative Date for Indian Moon Mission Launch 19 September – Space Body Chief

Text of report by Y. Mallikarjun headlined "Decision on Chandrayaan-I launch date in a month" published by Indian newspaper The Hindu website on 20 June

Hyderabad: The exact date for Chandrayaan-I [India's first lunar mission] launch will be decided in a month although 19 September has been tentatively fixed as the "earliest opportunity," Indian Space Research Organization [ISRO] chairman G. Madhavan Nair said here on Thursday [19 June].

Dr Nair was talking to journalists after delivering a National Technology Day lecture on "Indian Space Programme-Future Perspectives," organized by the Andhra Pradesh Akademi of Sciences (APAS) at the National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI).

He said the final stage of integration of instruments with the spacecraft was on. Tests and evaluation were in progress. Dr Nair declined to comment on the proposed "Space Command," saying he was not involved with it and it would be unfair to make any comment.

ISRO planned to launch five major satellites from Sriharikota next year, including the Indo-French joint mission Mega-Tropiques for study of water cycle and energy exchange in tropics and the Radar Imaging Satellite (RISAT- having all weather, day and night imaging capability) and Astrosat. ISRO also has two commercial launch contracts scheduled for 2009 and 2010.

Antrix [space] corporation, commercial arm of ISRO, was now doing a business of 1,000 crore rupees [234m dollars approximately], which was a "good achievement."

"Good eye-opener"

Earlier delivering the talk, Dr Nair described the launch of eight nano satellites (along with Cartosat-2A and IMS 1) on April 28 as a "good eye-opener for our universities." He said ISRO had so far launched over 50 missions and 26 of them were through the Indian launch vehicles.

Pointing out that ISRO was unique in having a strong human resource, he said 210 transponders of the INSAT [Indian National Satellite] series of satellites were in orbit. The INSAT applications included broadcast, communication, meteorological and developmental such as tele-education and tele-medicine.

In tele-education, over 30,000 schools and colleges were connected while annually around 300,000 patients benefited.

Maintaining leadership

India wanted to maintain its leadership in earth observation, communications and navigation satellite systems.

Dr Nair mentioned the manned mission to moon and reusable launch vehicles among the "future directions" of ISRO.

Earlier, the ISRO chairman presented Professor Y. Nayudamma Memorial Gold Medal to Harsh K. Gupta, former Secretary, Department of Ocean Development, and Raja Ramanna, Fellow, NGRI.

APAS president D. Narayana Rao announced that the Akademi would organise an AP [Andhra Pradesh] Science Congress annually on the lines of Indian Science Congress.

Originally published by The Hindu website, Chennai, in English 20 Jun 08.

(c) 2008 BBC Monitoring South Asia. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.