Divya Gandhi

BANGALORE: “Just as we had promised, we have given India the moon,” said G. Madhavan Nair, Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation, after the Moon Impact Probe (MIP) onboard Chandrayaan-1 successfully ejected and landed on the lunar surface on Friday night. With the tricolour painted on its sides the probe marked India’s presence on the Moon and put India in the elite club of Russia, the U.S., Japan and the European Space Agency, which have impacted probes on the Moon.

Surrounded by scores of space scientists and with the former President and pre-eminent scientist A.P.J. Abdul Kalam by his side, a jubilant Mr. Nair told presspersons gathered at the ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC): “It was during Jawaharlal Nehru’s time that the nucleus for a space programme started. It is befitting that on children’s day, celebrated in his honour, that India should plant its flag on the lunar surface,” he said.

The MIP, one of Chandrayaan’s most important scientific payloads, and of undeniable geopolitical importance, had piggy-backed on the lunar craft for about 400,000 km detaching itself successfully from the mother-craft at 8.06 p.m.

After a 25-minute flight, the MIP impacted the Moon’s surface at a speed of 1.6 km per minute, landing on its target near the Shackleton crater on the south pole of the moon, Mr. Nair said.

ISTRAC, situated in the non-descript industrial suburb of Peenya, was on Friday night, a hub of high activity with people lining the streets to greet Mr. Kalam who had flown in from Chandigarh.

“Chandrayaan has kindled a great interest in young minds,” said Mr. Kalam, who had flown in after attending a children’s day function earlier on Friday.

“I hope we will be able to have young astronauts walk on the Moon’s surface in 15 years,” he said.

It could however be sooner, within seven years, that an Indian astronaut will be sent into space, said Mr. Nair.

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  • Corrections and Clarifications

    The text of a report "Chandrayaan-1 lands probe on Moon" (Early editions,November 15, 2008, page 1) said that the Moon Impact Probe (MIP) impactedthe moon's surface at a speed of 1.6 km per second, while the accompanyinggraphic (Source: ISRO) gave it as 1.6 km/min, which is incorrect.The same report, which went with the heading "India leaves its footprints onMoon" (Later editions, November 15, 2008, page 1), said the probe put Indiain the elite club of Russia, the U.S., Japan and the European Space Agency,which have impacted probes on the Moon. The detail is right. China has notsent a probe to the moon.

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