An Indian on the Moon: not so distant now

November 14, 2008

In a small town in India’s heartland in 1969, an entire neighbourhood huddled around the radio, sipping tea and waiting for the moment that would change space science for ever.

A hush fell over the crowd as Neil Armstrong’s voice came in over heavy static — “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”

The room burst into applause as a controller at the Houston mission control radioed back — “You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue, we’re breathing again.”

Growing up, I never tired of listening to my father’s account of the day humans landed on the moon. He always added wistfully — “One day it will be an Indian walking on the moon.”

As India launched its unmanned moon mission Chandrayaan-1, what was considered an overambitious and daunting prospect back in 1969 does not seem unachievable any more.

With the perfect launch of the lunar probe onboard the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C11) on the cloudy morning of October 22, Indian scientists have proved they have come of age.

The spacecraft has settled into an orbit at a height of about 100 km from the lunar surface and will spend two years scanning it for evidence of water and precious metals.

Even as I write this, a gadget called the Moon Impactor Probe, with the Indian tricolour painted on it, detached from the spacecraft and landed on the moon to kick up some dust while instruments in the craft analyse the particles.

While a jubilant nation united in lauding scientists who spent years preparing for the occasion, the Internet is buzzing with discussions on the scope of India’s space programme and its effect on economy, politics and scientific research.

At 3.86 billion rupees, India’s lunar project costs much less compared to Asian rivals China and Japan — in itself an achievement in maximizing results while staying within a tight budget.

From 1963, when it first started its space programme, to the 2008 lunar mission — India has broken into the elitist club of space giants, dominated mainly by Russia, Europe and America.

Not only has India proved its credibility as a serious player in the space arena, it has made its space programme a bankable and competitive bet in the global satellite launch business.

I think the lunar mission has given India a sense of direction and confidence to compete shoulder-to-shoulder in the challenging and expensive field of space exploration.
The flawless launch of Chandrayaan-1 has created a maelstrom of interest in the scientific world and ISRO hopes its success will attract more young minds into India’s space research and lure back its scientists working in other countries.

If all goes according to plan, Chandrayaan-2 is expected to take off sometime between 2010 and 2012 and will include a robotic rover that will land on the moon.
India’s plans to put an astronaut into space by 2014 and send a manned mission to the moon by 2020 do not seem far-fetched any more. Neither does ‘Aditya’ — a satellite project to study solar emissions.

Some argue whether there is any sense in spending millions of rupees on space research in a nation that desperately needs funds for its education, healthcare and defence sectors.
But Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman G Madhavan Nair defends the costs incurred in the moon mission saying most of the expenses have gone to create infrastructural facilities that will be used to send satellites to Mars and Venus.

The moon has always facinated and inspired poets, and as I look up at the night sky, I realize what a giant leap this mission is for India’s space science, which in near future will take us a step closer to unlocking its mystery.

I join millions in congratulating our scientists.


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Great, it is a big achievement for India.

Posted by Manjinder | Report as abusive

i, think it will become the first and roll model for all other space crafts prepared and send by India.As it was successfully reached the moon it built the confidence in the team of “ISRO”

Posted by abhishek | Report as abusive

It is better late than never-slow but steady,has been followed by India.Great achievement to indian space scientists.India has established itself as rare explorer in such venture in the world.Great India,you are indeed!

Posted by PRANAB HAZRA | Report as abusive

India is super power in the making

Posted by reddy | Report as abusive

India is always super power than others, but by reasearching the moon what our people going to get. Is it going to reduce inflation rate, Unemployment, poverty. Is it going to give rainfall at right seasons, good infrastructure, Education to all.

You people are well educated guys, our brothers and sisters also need the same if we achieved those necessity then we will be the real super power than others.

Investing on launching satellites is good signals to have better communicational infrastructure but not investing in researching Moon, Mars and Sun.

Without these facilites in olden days 5000 years before we researched all Nava Grahas, Universe and Cosmic powers. Our Sushruta is the first plastic surgeon in the world see the below wikipedia. gery

we are the brilliants than others we should not do like others.

Indians should not do different things, they should do Things different.

There we get our identification.

Posted by Sudhakar R | Report as abusive

I hope India’s moon mission is successful………it would be a great advancement for this country.

Posted by SEO Links | Report as abusive

“Joy over the moon”….
A great conquest by Indian Scientists… it’s a perfect blissful moment… beyond mere words could express…

Congratulations to the whole team who marked such a great victorious History to India.

Posted by Mushtaq | Report as abusive

Excuse me, but to put a human being on the moon is a million times more complicated – –

And having US and Russian parts and instruments on this machine (not to mention the help and advice) would NOT make this exactly, O-R-I-G-I-N-A-L !!!!!!!


And by the way, how about installing some ”flush” public toilets first ??

Posted by BS BUSTER | Report as abusive

beautifully written

Posted by Shilpa | Report as abusive

It develops our indigenous technical skills. This is probably what Gandhiji would like.

Posted by Ananth | Report as abusive

Hats off to ISRO… They have accomplished a fantastic feat in unbelievably low budget. And those who are complaining about wastage of money should ask themselves if it is anything more than an exercise to look different. Is it so that if Chandrayaan has not been there every problem would have been solved? Providing Sanitation, poverty alleviation, education etc is going on for decades and will go on for decades. If expenditure is a parameter then we should first stop IPL(2500 Cr), Bollywood(2000+ cr), Advertisements(12000+ Cr, Icecreams(2500+ cr, Cosmetics(2500+Cr) and other things of that sort. Mere 380 cr and that too over a period of 5 years is nothing but a rounding error and ISRO people has created a value from it which is greater than all of the above combined.It will inspire generations of India and let them believe that they can.

Posted by Kamal P | Report as abusive

Go Mother India, you have our support.Proud to be an Indian. Go Mother India.

Posted by Shahid | Report as abusive

Its great achievement by ISRO and will be of great value for the Indian Space Program. Critics has nagging habit of seeing things negativly but forget to critisize the real absurd things which need to be critisized and few of the examples quoted by Kamal in the blog. Great Going.. Critics learn to add value by your opinions and need to appreciate the hard work put together but good minds working together out of their passion.

Posted by Praphull P | Report as abusive

i am eager to support my mother india for achieving moon machine success for the first time itself, its our nations pride for sending rockets without failure we are better much much better than other country. This proves we are well developed in science than others. i would solute our scientists for the good work, i will always pray god for indian tour of space programme.

jai barath mataki…….

badri bangalore

Posted by badri | Report as abusive

very cool; will be nice if we land on the moon before the chinese do. they are planning to land around 2020 as well…

Posted by anilh | Report as abusive

Sorry to tell, but this man on the moon lie has been doing its round again and again. No human has ever landed on moon till date. It is just a hoax story being told by the US.
Just google for man on moon conspiracy and you will accept my comments

Posted by J.Anandarajeshwaran | Report as abusive

Ok, Chandrayaan.
Blessed is the feeling of richness.
Joy is the mark of success.
Hailstorm is the begining of pouring.

Gold is found on ground and it also unfortunately sparks on humans.

Posted by vivekanand | Report as abusive

Since times immemorial India has been a leader in the area of knowledge. The successful landing of Chandrayaan on the moon has once again reaffirmed our potentiality in doing great things at low costs. The ISRO scientists and managers deserve all the praise for it. Hats off to them!!!

But I would like to re-emphasize, at what international costs the nations are carrying on these dare devil adventures. The sun, the moon, the sky and the atmosphere are not one nation’s assets. They are the free gifts of Nature to the world. The narrow political vision has divided them, but they remain integrated. Any one nation playing with them affects the whole world. Our concerns about ozone layer, global warming, pollution etc. arising out of such experimentations are of no less importance.

In the light of this, my submissions are:

1. As the world is now a compact place, would it not be better to rise above the petty national economies and initiate to reconstruct a small new world economy to avoid wastage of resources on innovation and research of this sort and to utilize the resources thus saved (I expect immense) to address the basic problems of hunger and houses all over the world.

2. A proper environmental auditing is undertaken for such projects.

Posted by Dr. C. P. Sharma | Report as abusive

I’m happy about the fact that we landed the MIP on the moon in the cheapest mission to moon possible. However I will be satisfied if we could do the same with the Indian Economy where we dont have to depend on anything on any other country. We have to be independent in everything we do. Thank you.

Posted by Sunil Kumar | Report as abusive