Preparations begin for lunar mission countdown

October 19th, 2008 - 8:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangalore, Oct 19 (IANS) Preparations for the countdown to launch India’s first unmanned lunar spacecraft Chandrayaan-1 Oct 22 has begun at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, a top space agency official said here Sunday.”Launch rehearsal exercises are nearing completion. Preparations for the 52-hour countdown Monday from 02:20 a.m. have been initiated despite inclement weather and heavy rain since morning at Sriharikota (about 80km from Chennai) off the Bay of Bengal,” Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) director S. Satish told IANS.

A team of experts from various ISRO centres are working at the mission control centre and the launch pad for the actual countdown, even as hundreds of scientists and technicians carry out mandatory checks of the 316-tonne Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) C1 and the 1,380-kg spacecraft atop, with 11 scientific payloads for a smooth launch on schedule.

“We are hoping for a fair weather over the next two-three days for the 06:21 a.m. Wednesday launch. Cloudy sky or normal rain will not come in the way of the launch. Our met (meteorology) department is monitoring the weather data as the northeast monsoon is due later next week,” Satish said.

Barring a cyclonic storm or lightning, inclement weather will not hold up the launch schedule as the rockets soars into space within minutes after lift-off.

Four massive towers around the launch pad are equipped with specific gadgets to deflect lightning (if any) and protect the PSLV or the spacecraft from high-speed winds.

The fully integrated launch vehicle was moved to the launch platform from the vehicle assembly building late Friday for installation and rehearsals.

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