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NASA Seeks Berth On India's Moon Mission

The Chandrayan-1 mission is intended to develop a chemical map of the moon, with a three-dimensional atlas of specific regions.
by Harbaksh Singh Nanda
New Delhi (UPI) 01, 2005
India is preparing to launch its first ever unmanned moon mission and a satellite dedicated completely to astronomical research by 2007-08, and the U.S. Space Agency, NASA, is in consultations with the Indian officials to participate in the mission.

Indian officials say that New Delhi plans to put a 1,160-pound orbiter using its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, and NASA wants a slot in the spacecraft to send some scientific instruments for a few experiments.

"We have also got interest from NASA to place their payload in our moon mission," Indian Space Research Organization Satellite Center Director P. S. Goel said over the weekend.

The project Chandrayan-1 is scheduled for launch in 2007-08.

"NASA is in talks with us for deploying some of its scientific payload in our spacecraft to carry out specific tests in the lunar orbit. We are evaluating the proposal," Goel said in India's southern city of Bangalore.

NASA plans to deploy mini-synthetic aperture radar (MSAR) and spectrometer with 0.3 micron to 0.9-micron capabilities in the Indian spacecraft for the experiments, Indo Asian News Service reported.

"The Moon Mission is India's first step to land on the moon and collect samples," K. Kasturirangan, Director of the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore, said while delivering the National Science Day Lecture.

"With our technology for Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle and Geo stationary Satellite Launch Vehicle, we have the capability to foray into Venus and Mars," he said, adding the 21st century would see many countries entering the area of planetary exploration.

India would have its own presence in different parts of the solar system, the Press Trust of India quoted the scientist as saying.

Kasturirangan said the Astrosat, a satellite for astronomical observations, would carry sophisticated instruments to probe the universe in extremes of temperature and detect ultra-violet, X-Rays and visible wavelengths.

The 1.6-ton spacecraft was under design and would have provision to look at stars at different wavelengths. It would study aspects like black holes, the PTI reported.

India has reserved 22 pounds of the payload and 10 watts of power in the spacecraft for other space agencies to carry out additional experiments and observations.

After an international bid, 10 countries - including the United States, Britain, Germany, Sweden and Bulgaria - have come forward to associate with Chandrayan-1.

"We have selected the Bulgarian payload that will have radiation monitoring equipment in the spacecraft and two more payloads from European countries," Goel said.

ISRO chairman G. Madhavan Nair said the Indian payload was under fabrication and the project was progressing on schedule.

"We have already identified about 100 acres for the earth station at Tavarakere, 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Bangalore. The station will exchange the voluminous data with the lunar orbiter at a distance of 400,000 kilometers (250,000) from the earth," Nair said on the sidelines of a news conference.

He said the mission is intended to develop a chemical map of the moon, with a three-dimensional atlas of specific regions.

The total cost of the moon mission is projected $89 million currently, and the orbiter is expected to last two years.

On Monday, India's finance minister P. Chidambaram presented the budget proposal in Parliament, giving a 7.8 percent hike in the defense budget, which stands at $19 billion.

All rights reserved. Copyright 2004 by United Press International. Sections of the information displayed on this page (dispatches, photographs, logos) are protected by intellectual property rights owned by United Press International. As a consequence, you may not copy, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish, display or in any way commercially exploit any of the content of this section without the prior written consent of by United Press International.

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Confidence Restored, Japan Aims For Station On The Moon In 2025
Tokyo (AFP) Feb 28, 2005
Japan's space agency, fresh from its first satellite launch since a 2003 failure, aims to put a manned station on the moon in 2025 and to set up a satellite disaster alert system, an official said Monday.

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