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India's second lunar mission by 2012: ISRO chief

ISRO Chief Madhavan Nair. File photo

CHENNAI (PTI): India will launch its second lunar mission, Chandrayaan-2, by 2012, according to Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman G Madhavan Nair.

"Chandrayaan-2 will be launched by 2012. We will have a lander that will drop a small robot on the moon, which will pick samples, analyse data and send it back. Already the project has been formulated for Chandrayaan-2," Nair told reporters on the sidelines of an international seminar on Emerging Scenarios in Space Technology and applications here on Thursday.

He dismissed as “speculation” reports that the government had not approved ISRO's proposal for a manned mission.

Justifying the relevance of manned moon mission, Nair said, "We cannot be lagging behind in terms of our capability to access space. China, the US and Japan are going ahead with huge plans for space."

Talking about Chandrayaan-1, the country's first unmanned moon mission, he said the Moon Impact Probe would land on the lunar surface on Friday evening. “However, we cannot specify the time as of now.”

On the success of the project, Nair said already 95 per cent of the mission had been completed and just five per cent of the work remained. The total success of the mission would be known only after the remaining work was completed, he added.

The ISRO chairman said Chandrayaan-1 would get extensive study map of the moon which will help in providing an idea about the minerals on the moon. ''Mineral mapping and surface feature mapping would be of prime importance.''

He also revealed that the Indian space agency was going ahead with the study of sending a spacecraft to Mars. On the Solar mission ‘Aditya’, he said the satellite was intended to study solar emissions. “The design work is complete and it would be launched within two years”.

Meanwhile, seeking to silence the critics of Chandrayaan-1 over its exorbitant costs, Nair asserted that only a miniscule portion of the Indian space programme's budget had been allotted for the mission.

"Only three per cent of total budget of ISRO for three years has been spent on the mission. Most of the expenses have gone to create infrastructural facilities, which will be used for our plans to send satellites to Mars and Venus. Hence the question of spending an exorbitant amount does not arise," he said.

Dedicating the successful Chandrayaan-1 mission to the Indian scientific community, he said it is a turning point in the country's space programme and has enthused young scientists.

"ISRO has not forgotten its commitment to society," Nair said, adding that the organisation's next phase would be to provide benefit to the poor through advanced technology. "Our eyes will now focus on global warming, water shortage and telemedicine, which are important to the poor."

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