Countdown begins for Chandrayaan-1 launch

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Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh, Oct 20: The 52-hour countdown for Chandrayaan-1, India's first unmanned moon mission has begun at the Satish Dhawan Space centre at Sriharikota on Monday, Oct 20 early morning for Wednesday, Oct 22's historic launch. Indian Space Research Organisation(ISRO) which has so far specialized in putting satellites into the earth's orbit, is making it's first attempt to reach the moon.

The spacecraft would be carrying 11 payloads (scientific instruments) and weigh about 1,380 kg at the time of its launch, according to reports. Chandrayaan-1 satellite would orbit the Moon at an altitude of 100 km mapping the topography and the mineralogical content of the lunar soil.

Chandrayaan-1 would also carry a Moon Impact Probe payload for demonstrating the technology needed towards landing on the Moon's surface. India believes the Rs 386-crore lunar mission is a step towards its quest for exploration of outer space and inter-planetary missions.

Chandrayaan-1 is the first spacecraft mission of ISRO beyond Earth's orbit. It would be followed by Chandrayaan-2 which features a lander and a rover. India and Russia would jointly participate in this project. However, there might be a provision to accommodate payloads from other space agencies as happened in Chandrayaan-1.

The objectives set with the Chandrayaan-1 are

--to expand scientific knowledge about the moon

--to upgrade India's technological capability

--to provide challenging opportunities for planetary research to the younger generation of Indian scientists.

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