Chandrayaan-2: There’s a lot at stake, postponed launch far better than failed launch
New Delhi, July 22: Those who burnt the midnight oil on July 15 to follow Chandrayaan-2 launch on the TV were left a tad disappointed as it had to be called off 56.24 minutes before the scheduled launch time. ISRO promptly tweeted that there was a technical issue and a new launch date would be announced soon.
It later emerged that an anomaly in the helium tank was the reason for calling off the launch. ISRO rectified the issue and announced that Chandrayaan-2 would be launched on July 22, and also successfully completed the launch rehearsal.
Space missions are very complex. A lot of systems and processes have to work precisely in a coordinated manner for a mission to be successful. There is absolutely no room for any error no matter how insignificant it may seem. Extensive checks and inspections are done as one small failure can result in a disaster, in fact it was due to such a mechanism that glitch could be detected before Chandrayaan-2's July 15th launch. Mission failure means crores of rupees down the drain, hard work of scientists wasted and a permanent damage to the reputation of ISRO.
With ISRO working on a much more complex mission - Gaganyaan, it is essential they get Chandrayaan-2 right and prove beyond doubt India's ability to carry payloads to the surface of the moon. Space mission are becoming increasingly commercial and to compete in that market, ISRO will have to demonstrate technologies required for deep-space missions.
ISRO has been launching small-medium weight satellites into the orbit and its launch vehicle PSLV has demonstrated commendable capabilities in this field. It is now time to go to the next level. Chanddrayaan-2 and Gaganyaan would give ISRO a much required impetus in the highly competitive satellite launch market which is expanding into a multi-billion industry. Since costs involved are high, any investor would look at the track record and ability to develop complex technologies.
Chandrayaan-2, if executed perfectly, will establish India's capability to safely land on the moon and operate a rover on the lunar surface for the first time. The next step Gaganyaan.
If ISRO executes Gaganyaan perfectly, then there would be a paradigm shift in the way world looks at India's capabilities in terms of space exploration. The success of Gaganyaan can prove India's ability to develop complex technologies and would establish ISRO as a major space power. India has been launching satellites for other countries, but what Gaganyaan can do is to encourage ISRO to dive into lucrative business of 'Space Tourism'. If India does enter space tourism, the impact would be huge as investment in space tourism can generate revenues and employment on a sizeable scale. Space tourism would require personnel for building the spacecraft, to training travellers, to investment and insurance.
Having a range of launch vehicles capable of orbiting a wide variety satellites is one thing, but gaining trust of international customers who have for decades relied on European and American companies for launches is another. It is in this respect that Chandrayaan-2 and Gaganyaan would help. It would help ISRO to emerge as a trustable brand in the field of space technology.