New Delhi: Many western nations criticise India for having a space program that needs a sizeable amount of money. What they don’t realise is that India is preparing for the future. And the first step towards this was India’s first ever moon mission that was launched on this day in 2008 by ISRO.
The Chandrayaan-1 was a big learning experience for ISRO and paved way for the Mangalyaan. Built on a reported budget of Rs 400 crores, the Chandrayaan-1 was constructed and launched in the country. Before the Chandrayaan only a select few nations like USA, Russia, Japan and China had launched moon missions. The spacecraft therefore was important if India wanted to be taken seriously as a space faring nation.
Launched on-board the workhorse PSLV, the Chandrayaan had a successful lift off and successfully entered moon orbit on 8 November 2008. In the orbit around moon, it conducted experiments like high-resolution remote sensing of the moon in visible, near infrared (NIR), low energy X-rays and high-energy X-ray regions.
But the Chandrayaan’s most important contribution was the discovery of water on the lunar surface. The spacecraft is credited with the confirmation of presence of water on the moon. The Moon Impact Probe (MIP) was detached from the orbiter and hard-landed on a predesignated spot on the moon’s surface. It was announced that the MIP discovered water just before impact. This was confirmed by the Moon Mineralogy Mapper, an American payload also carried on the Chandrayaan
The Chandrayaan was designed with a mission life of 2 years, but on 29 August 2009, communication with the spacecraft was suddenly lost. Despite serving for only 10 months out of the 24 months planned, it managed to complete 95% of its missions.
It will always be India’s first spacecraft to venture beyond the Earth’s orbit.