Tokyo, Oct 22 (UNI) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today congratulated scientists on the successful launch of Chandrayaan-I, India's first unmanned spacecraft to moon, describing it as the first step in the historic milestone of the country's space programme.
''The successful launch of the Chandrayaan-I spacecraft, India's first unmanned scientific mission to the moon, marks the first step in what we hope will be a historic milestone in India's space programme,'' the Prime Minister said in a statement.
The Prime Minister, who is here on a five-day visit to Japan and China, said the mission, when completed, would put India in the very small group of six countries which have thus far sent space missions to the moon.
''I congratulate all the scientists associated with this mission for the successful completion of the first step. When completed, the mission will put India in the very small group of six countries which have thus far sent space missions to the moon. Our scientific community has once again done the country proud and the entire nation salutes them,'' the Prime Minister said while paying glowing tributes to the Indian scientific community.
The spacecraft was launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) using India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).
All the launch vehicle systems performed satisfactorily and the spacecraft has been successfully placed in an orbit around the earth.
This is the beginning of a two-week long effort in which scientists will manoeuvre the spacecraft into expanding orbits around the earth before finally shifting it to an orbit around the moon.
Chandrayaan-I will then orbit the moon and carry out high resolution remote sensing to prepare a 3-dimensional atlas of the moon. It will also carry out chemical and mineralogical mapping of the lunar surface.
The spacecraft carries eleven scientific instruments, five from India and six from universities and laboratories of the European Space Agency, USA and Bulgaria.
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