Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) would finalise in a couple of months the payloads from the international community to be carried on Chandrayaan-II moon mission, the space agency’s chairman K Radhakrishnan has said. “Yes, we have and in a couple of months we would finalise it. There are several of them (proposals received from different countries),” he told reporters here.
The Chandrayaan II mission would have an orbiter which would carry a lander and rover, the ISRO chief said on the sidelines of a book launch on Moon Mission.
“The lander will bring the rover to the surface of the moon and during the time it is there, it will take samples to be analysed,” he said, adding, the data would be sent back to earth through the orbiter.
The orbiter would have “some instruments and we are finalising which are those to be put there. It is about 50kg mass, that is what we could have,” he said.
He said a scientific committee, chaired by former ISRO chief professor UR Rao was looking at requirements and possibilities of learning from the Chandrayaan I experiment.
“ISRO is expected to finalise configuration soon for Chandrayaan II to be launched by GSLV. That is what the plan is around 2012-2013, we should be able to have the mission,” he noted.
Asked how many payloads the next mission would carry, he said it would be decided soon, with mass and power being the limiting factor.
“We also need to repeat some experiments. All will be decided by the scientific committee.” On possibility of an unmanned Mars Mission, Radhakrishnan said “there are three opportune years, but then we have to finally decide what instruments we are going to carry, what is the science that you are trying to understand and then build a spacecraft.”
He said 2013, 2016, 2018 were the “opportune” years or time slots available for such a mission.
“We also have a long journey to reach Mars. We have to finalise the kind of propulsion that we need. It will take a minimum of six months to reach there,” he said.
On whether ISRO was working on the project, he said “At the moment we are studying it and it is a paper study.”
The global community was looking at a time frame of 2030 for having a habitat in Mars.
India was also looking at a human space flight programme around the earth’s orbit, he said, adding, the challenge was in designing a craft that could take astronauts and let them live outside in harsh environment.
It involved building a crew module, an escape system for astronauts if the craft develops problems and also ensuring reliability of the launch vehicle, he said.
“In four to seven years, we should be able to do it in steps,” he said. Initially, ISRO was looking at sending two astronauts on the craft on the lower orbit of the earth.
On India’s stand on anti-satellite technology given the demand, he said, “we are into peaceful use of outer space.”
On GSLV Mark III next developmental flight or testing of the indigenous cryogenic engine, he said it should happen in the next couple of months.
“We would take a review tomorrow,” he said. The book `Mission Moon: Exploring the Moon with Chandrayaan I” is written by SK Das, honorary adviser to ISRO. It talks about the ISRO’s preparation and planning for its maiden moon mission, among others. The book, published by Penguin, was released by Radhakrishnan, in the presence of eminent space scientists, including former ISRO chairmen, Dr K Kasturirangan, prof UR Rao and Dr G Madhavan Nair.
Prof Rao said the book also cover myths surrounding the moon.In in a lighter vein,he said ancient poets appeared unclear of the moon’s gender. While at one time it has been referred to as Chandramukhi, a beautiful face of a woman, yet at other times,it was referred to as Chandamama, moon uncle.
In response to questions by school children, Rao said a study had mapped some tunnels on the moon. The tunnels could perhaps house human habitats since they were underground and could keep off radiation and maintain temperature.The way science was progressing, “in the next 50-60 years we are going to see many new great discoveries.”
“We aren’t apologetic about the lunar mission,” Kasturirangan said taking on criticism on the money pumped into it. “As it has ignited a million minds. That is justification enough,” he said referring to the interest it has generated about moon.
Nair said ISRO’s contribution in discovery of new facets of the moon has been acknowledged even by Nasa.
Asked if India had the potential to take on global competition, Radhakrishnan said in today’s time, “It is not competition but working together that matters. It will take one and one to make 11”. The global community would have to work in a synergised manner to understand everything about the planetary system.