New Delhi: India's prestigious lunar mission, Chandrayaan-I, will be launched either late October or early December, according to former ISRO chairman, Krishnaswamy Kasturirangan. The spacecraft will carry five Indian and six international payloads and will be launched by a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).
Essentially a lunar satellite, the craft will orbit the moon for a period of two years.
According to Kasturirangan, the Chandrayaan has already been assembled and is currently undergoing a series of tests. The spacecraft, which is no bigger than a typical office cubicle, is currently undergoing tests for its ability to handle the extreme thermal and vacuum environment experienced in a lunar orbit. These assessments will be followed by vibration and acoustic tests.
"The thermovac test will continue about three weeks which takes us to a late October launch otherwise it would be in December as satellite launches do not take place in November, a cyclone season," Kasturirangan said. Kasturirangan is a Rajya Sabha member and also director of the National Institute for Advanced Sciences, Bangalore.
He was speaking at a function here last evening to release a book titled, "Destination Moon: India's Quest for the Moon and Beyond" authored by science writers Pallava Bagla and Subhadra Menon.
Meanwhile, work has already begun on the next lunar mission in which Indian space scientists will land a rover on the surface of the moon which will collect rock and dust samples. Chandrayaan-II is a joint venture project with Russia.
Both countries have already signed a Memorandum of Understanding with respect to advancing the project.