NEW DELHI – If a rocket is fired from an island in the Bay of Bengal in the coming days, it will not only transport a lunar rover, but also the growing ambitions of a nation in space.
On Monday, India begins its second ever lunar mission, its most complex space odyssey to date.
Chandrayaan-2, whose launch coincides with the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, will attempt to land gently on the Moon's unknown South Pole region in the first week of September. According to scientists, the region is critically important as there may be water and craters containing fossil records from the early solar system.
Gateway House Space and Ocean Research Program Chaitanya Giri, a think tank in Mumbai, said it was the first spacecraft landing on the Moon South Pole.
The mission consists of a lander named Vikram, named after the first head of the Indian Space Agency, and a rover named Pragyan, which means "wisdom" in Sanskrit.
If successful, the mission will improve the understanding of the moon and "benefit India and humanity as a whole," according to the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). His boss, K. Sivan, told NDTV News that Vikram's 1
The country's first space mission, Chandrayaan-1, was launched in 2008, was instrumental in the discovery of water on the lunar surface. The chairman of the ISRO refused a further statement, citing a "hectic schedule" before the start.
Although India's space program began in the 1960s, it has gained a new status under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The nationalist leader returned for re-election in May following a campaign focused on security and patriotic rhetoric. Modi has promoted the space program as a symbol of the country's increasing international stature and as a bulwark of its defense capabilities.
The moon mission is not the only one on the horizon. By 2022, the Indian Space Agency wants to send a manned mission to Mars. In 2014, it successfully sent an unmanned orbiter to the Red Planet.
"India has begun to make decisions that make this country a huge space craft," wrote Mark Whittington, author of two space exploration studies. In order to be a major actor on the world stage, India had realized that an "energetic space program" was needed.
During his election campaign in March, Modi held a sudden televised address to tell the nation that India had become The fourth country to launch a low-orbit satellite with a rocket – an advanced defensive capability that only the US, China, and Russia Offer.
Following one of the worst cross-border conflicts with Pakistani arch rival in recent years, security analysts' missile test was seen as a major policy change for New Delhi, which sought to portray itself as a responsible international actor.
The test displeased NASA, whose administrator described it as "unacceptable" because debris could potentially damage the International Space Station.
Critics of Indian space exploration wonder if a developing country can afford to spend millions on space exploration. Vikram Sarabhai, who is considered the father of the country's space program, said in response that India "must apply advanced technologies to the real problems of people and society" in order "to play a significant role at the national level and in the international community" , 19659015] Others have highlighted the cost-effectiveness of India's space exploration compared to those of the United States.
India's first Mars satellite cost less than the budget of the space movie "Gravity" The current moon mission is well below the $ 25 billion that the United States has spent on its Apollo program. Both the Mars and Moon missions together amounted to less than the $ 408 million that India spent last year building a giant statue of a leader of the Freedom Era. In a famous image from 1981, India located its first communications satellite, APPLE, on an ox cart.
India has increased its budget spending on space by 11 percent to $ 1.8 billion this year, even though it's well below the value of NASA or NASA China is outgrowing.
Experts say that India's focus on its space program reflects the aspirations of its young population. According to Giri, scientific innovation, the invention of new technologies, and the development of highly skilled labor could help make India a $ 5 trillion economy by 2024, a target the Modi government strives for.