Indian mission to moon won't be affected by Columbia disaster

Friday, 21 February 2003, 08:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: India Wednesday said the destruction of the U.S. space shuttle Columbia would not impact on its space programme, including a planned mission to the moon.

S.B. Mookherjee, minister of state in the space department, indicated the Columbia disaster would not lead to any rethinking in the space programme as India currently had no plans to send a manned mission into space.

The proposed mission to the moon would involve using the polar satellite launch vehicle to place an unmanned spacecraft in orbit 100 km above the moon, Mookherjee said in written replies to questions in Lok Sabha.

The government would, however, closely monitor reports on the U.S. investigation into the destruction of Columbia, which resulted in the death of its seven-member crew, including Indian American astronaut Kalpana Chawla.

"The mission (to the moon) is proposed for the scientific objective of high-resolution remote sensing of the lunar surface in visible, near-infrared, low energy X-ray and high energy X-ray spectra," Mookherjee said.

"Unmanned exploration of the moon will enhance understanding of the moon aqnd also result in technology advancement for future space programmes."

A "national task team" set up to study the proposed mission had submitted a report that was being studied by the government. "The mission can be realised in about five years after the approval of the project," Mookherjee said.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), he said, was conducting preliminary studies on the development of a reusable vehicle to launch satellites, he said. These studies would identify technologies and estimate the cost of such a project.

Research and development of the reusable vehicle will be started in the 10 Plan period that ends in 2007.

Besides launching 35 Indian satellites, ISRO had earned about 100 million by putting four micro-satellites in space for international customers.

Source: IANS
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