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. The project Chandrayan-1 is scheduled for launch in 2007-08. The Chandrayan-1 mission is intended to develop a chemical map of the moon, with a three-dimensional atlas of specific regions.
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.
“With our technology for Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle and Geo stationary Satellite Launch Vehicle, we have the capability to foray into Venus and Mars,” said K. Kasturirangan, Director of the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore, adding the 21st century would see many countries entering the area of planetary exploration.
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. The total cost of the moon mission is projected $89 million currently, and the orbiter is expected to last two years.