Chandrayaan to be a reality by 2008-end

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Chennai, Jan 21: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has a busy schedule of 80 launches in the coming years and 'Chandrayaan', India's moon mission, would be launched by the year-end, its Chairman G Madhavan Nair said today.

Addressing a press conference here after the successful launch of Israeli satellite 'Polaris' from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota, he said ISRO was planning to launch 80 missions in the next five years as against 32 in the last five years. Topping the list would be a multiple mission with five payloads before the middle of this year, followed by Chandrayaan, using the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and GSLV mission, with indigenous cryogenic engines.

Asked about the uncertainty over the launch of Chandrayaan, Mr Nair told UNI after the press conference that ''it will definitely be launched by the end of this year.'' He said the multiple mission would contain a set of three customer related nano satellites, called CubeSat, for the Dutch's Innovative Solution in Space (ISIS). The three satellites built by universities in Europe were being launched for educational purpose, he added.

Mr Nair said the same mission would carry a 14-kg nano satellite 'NLS-5', built by the University of Toronto, for Radio Frequency in Very High Frequency Band. It would also carry a seven-kg nano satellite 'Rubin-8' for Cosmos International Germany for the purpose of establishing communication with ships.

''All the bunch of nano satellites are being launched to test new technology and new type of space applications,'' he said.

Mr Nair said that besides the bunch of nano satellites, the multiple mission would carry ISRO's Cartosat-II and a unique Third World satellite TW-SAT to promote cooperation among developing countries and sharpen their capabilities in satellite application. Though the launch of Chandrayaan was planned in April, it was getting delayed because of the heavy schedule, he said, adding that ''but definitely it will be launched this year''.

''We will make up our mind by the middle of February. All the instruments are in our hand. Within a month, we will make up our mind and finalise the mission (Chandrayaan) schedule'', he said.

ISRO was also planning to launch GSAT-4 using indigenous cryogenic engines, which were hitherto imported from Russia. This mission would carry OceanSat-II, Mr Nair said.

India would also be launching its own Radar imaging satellite, being built by the Indian Space Applications Centre, Ahmedabad, like the Israeli Polaris, launched this morning. This launch would be either at the end of this year or next year, he said.

''The heavy schedule is a big challenge and we are bracing up to face it,'' he added.

UNI

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