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'Next step, land an Indian on moon'

CNN-IBN
Oct 22, 2008 at 06:42am IST

New Delhi: Chandrayaan-1, India’s first mission to the moon will blast off on Wednesday morning heralding a new era in the country’s space research. The entire scientific community is watch with great anticipation as India get ready for one of its biggest space mission ever.

Former chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Dr K Kasturirangan spoke to CNN-IBN about Chandrayaan-1.

CNN-IBN: When will we see an Indian on the moon? Given that we are atleast 40 years behind the US on that, some are even wondering if we aren't spending all this money to reinvent the wheel?

Dr K Kasturirangan: I should say the question of 40 years behind doesn't come into picture. I don't think we were in race with the US, Europe and Russia now. The question is to develop space to a point that it becomes useful to the country, you have economic returns from the space which is quite attractive because, in fact we have done an economic analysis which very clearly brings out these kinds of considerations. But we certainly have to look ahead. In the next two-three years we will have to develop a model of cooperation in an international context, we have to land a man in the moon. So I think the studies are on in ISRO. I am sure that they will be able to provide an answer when you ask this question to ISRO.

CNN-IBN: You spoke about international cooperation, but what about competition? How do we size up in the race against other players particularly China?

Dr K Kasturirangan: Well if you want to make a comparison and I never made a comparison with any other country because I had a very well directed programme tuned to India's need. But on the other hand in trying to achieve these we certainly have built world class satellites and remote sensing, perhaps the best in the world. We have a set of communication satellites which are state of art, we have a two launch vehicle, whose technology is a level of maturity which are comparable to the best in the world. But at the same time we do not have heavy launch vehicles like the Chinese have, or the Europeans or the Americans. But we are in the process of developing and evolving GSLV Mark 3 in a year or two, which will have that kind of capability too. So if you look at it with all these angles, of course we are were should be and are comparable to some of the best technologies in the world.

CNN-IBN: All the anticipation with some worries about the weather as father of the moon mission, how nervous are you feeling?

Dr K Kasturirangan: I don't feel nervousness, but certainly my anticipation is such that since I would like the whole mission to succeed and there is no second line of defence. Either you have success or no success. This has to be successful and if you look for the success of a complex mission like this which has taken four years to develop but has taken on the experience of 30-40 years of technological and scientific development. Obviously one has to keep fingers crossed and to that extent I will be as nervous as any engineer in ISRO. But in space you don't try to be over optimistic. What gives me confidence is that every conceivable test has been examined to ensure that the mission should be an all out success.

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