Chandrayaan I enters final phase of launch

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Bangalore, Oct 18 (UNI) The 1380-kg Chandrayaan-I spacecraft, set for launch on October 22, entered the final phase with the launch vehicle being moved to the launch pad at Sriharikota, 100 km North of Chennai.

The countdown would begin in the early hours of Monday, an Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) official said.

ISRO's well proven PSLV-C11 launch vehicle, the 13th in the series weighing 316 tonne, would hurl the spacecraft to the earth's orbit and it would be gradually pushed to the lunar orbit.

''The vehicle has been moved last night to the second launch pad, moving a distance of one-km from the assembly facility. The final tests and launch exercises are on and we are working round the clock. If the weather permits it will be a perfect launch of our first space mission beyond the earth orbit,'' ISRO Director S Satish said today.

Speaking to UNI here, he said the mood was buoyant with scientists and others working round the clock. The vehicle was moved to the second launch pad on rails. The rocket had been fixed to the launch pad, he said.

The launch has been set for 0620 hrs on October 22. It is being hoped that the northeast monsoon would not affect the launch.

For the first time, ISRO would launch 11 payloads, including six foreign instruments.

A 52-hour countdown, which would begin at 0220 hrs on Monday, marks filling of the propellants into the last stage of the launch vehicle. The actual countdown would begin 12 hours prior to the launch.

Meanwhile, the Indian Deep Sapce Network, the Rs 100 crore facility built near the city, is the focal point of all operational activities of Chandrayaan-I.

It was ready to receive the first signals, expected to be received at 1230 PM on October 22.

With a gigantic 32-metre diameter anteena and another with 18 m, situated at Byalalu, 35 km from here, IDSN performs important task of receiving the radio signals from Chandrayaan-I.

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