India – The 49-hour countdown for the launch of India’s maiden unmanned moon mission scheduled to blast off tomorrow from Sriharikota is progressing smoothly and there is no chance of the launch being postponed unless a cyclonic threat emerged, officials said.
The work on filling of propellant for the first stage of the polar launch vehicle had been completed and the second stage filling would be over tonight, Satish Dhawan Space Centre Associate Director Dr M Y S Prasad told PTI here, 80 kms north of Chennai.
“The countdown, which started at 5.22 am yesterday, is progressing smoothly and the propellant filling of PS-2 (first stage) has been completed,” he said adding a total of about 43 tonnes of propellant would be filled.
Asked about weather conditions in this space port town, which is witnessing isolated rains, he said the rains would not affect the launch.
Chandrayaan-1 would put India in the elite lunar club comprising Russia, US, Japan, China and European Space Agency (ESA), which had undertaken unmanned exploratory missions to the moon.
Chandrayaan-1 would be launched on board India’s home-grown rocket PSLV-C11 at 6.20 am tomorrow from the second launch pad at SDSC.
The mission intends to put an unmanned spacecraft into an orbit around the moon and perform remote sensing of the nearest celestial neighbour for about two years with eleven payloads (scientific instruments).
It would reach the moon surface after five and half days. Later, the moon impact probe would be ejected from Chandrayaan-1 to hit the moon surface in a chosen area.
Following this, cameras and other scientific instruments will be turned on and throughly tested. This leads to the operational phase of the mission. This phase lasts about two years during which Chandrayaan-1 would explore the lunar surface with its array of instruments that includes cameras and spectrometers.
The solar-powered Chandrayaan-I, carrying 11 payloads, weighs about 1,380 kg at the time of its launch and was shaped like a cuboid with the solar panel projecting from one of its sides.
Of the 11 payloads, five are entirely designed and developed in India, three are from European Space Agency, one from Bulgaria and two from the US.