India’s first moon mission is world’s 68th

October 21st, 2008 - 1:44 pm ICT by IANS  

ISROBangalore, Oct 21 (IANS) Chandrayaan-1, that lifts off Wednesday morning from Sriharikota, is India’s first and the world’s 68th mission to the moon, the earth’s closest celestial body which has fascinated children, scientists and poets alike.”Through the ages, the moon, our closest celestial body, has aroused curiosity in our mind, far more than any other objects in the sky,” says the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on its maiden moon mission.

The world’s first moon mission was by the then Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) on Jan 2, 1959, followed two months later by the US on March 3.

Between them, the two countries have sent 62 missions to probe the moon with the US stealing a march over the then cold war rival USSR by landing a man on the moon on July 20, 1969.

Japan broke the monopoly of the two superpowers on Jan 24, 1990 by sending its spacecraft Hiten to orbit the moon. The European Space Agency launched its probe in September 2003. China sent its spacecraft Chang-e last year.

The first hard landing on the moon was on Sep 12, 1959 by Soviet Union’s Luna 2.

The first photos from the moon were taken by Oct 4, 1959 from the Soviet spacecraft Luna 3.

On Jan 26, 1962, the US Ranger 3 missed the Moon by 36,793 km.

The Soviet Union’s Luna 6 did worse on June 8, 1965 missing the moon by 160,000 km.

Luna 9 made up for it on Jan 31, 1966 by becoming the first spacecraft to soft land on the moon.

The Indian mission to the moon was proposed at a meeting of the Indian Academy of Sciences in 1999.

Then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee announced the project was on course in his Independence Day speech on Aug 15, 2003.

The Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft is cuboid in shape, weighs 1,304 kg at launch and 590 kg at lunar orbit. It will carry 11 payloads, including six from abroad.

A canted single-sided solar array will generate required power for the spacecraft during its two-year mission. The solar array generates 700 watts of peak power. During eclipse the spacecraft will be powered by Lithium ion (Li-Ion) batteries.

The spacecraft employs an X-band, 0.7-metre diameter parabolic antenna for payload data transmission.

The Telemetry, Tracking & Command (TTC) communication is in S-band frequency and scientific payload data transmission in X-band frequency.

The spacecraft has three Solid State Recorders (SSRs) to record data from various payloads.

SSR-1 will store science payload data and has capability of storing 32 GB data.

The 8 GB SSR-2 will store science payload data along with spacecraft attitude information, satellite house keeping and other auxiliary data.

The third SSR with 10 GB SSR is for storing M3 (Moon Mineralogy Mapper) payload data.

On the ground, Chandrayaan-1 will be tracked by the Deep Space Station (DSN), Spacecraft Control Centre (SCC) and Indian Space Science Data Centre (ISSDC).

The spacecraft will blast off on an upgraded version of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, built first in the early 1990s by ISRO.

PSLV is ISRO’s workhorse launch vehicle. The upgraded version, PSLV-C11, has a liftoff weight of 316 tonnes.

Chandrayaan-1 costs Rs.3.86 billion (about $76 million): Rs.530 million (about $11 million) for Payload development, Rs.830 million (about $17 million) for Spacecraft Bus,
Rs.1 billion ($20 million) for Deep Space Network, Rs.1 billion ($20 million) for PSLV launch vehicle, and Rs.500 million ($10 million) for scientific data centre, external network support and programme management expenses.

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