`Chandrayana' to map moon for two years

BANGALORE, AUG. 21. The satellite dedicated to distance education, EDUSAT, is likely to be launched after September 20, the Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), G. Madhavan Nair, said here on Saturday. The satellite had already been transported to Sriharikotta, he added.

Mr. Nair was speaking to presspersons after delivering the Prof. Brahm Prakash Memorial Lecture on "India's advanced space mission: Challenges in materials development" at the Indian Institute of Science. He said India's moon mission, Chandrayana, would be unmanned and launched by this year. The space vehicle would pass as close as 100 km over the surface of the moon and carry out total mapping of the moon over a period of two years. "There may be a second moon mission later,'' he added.

Elaborating on the future of Indian space research, Mr. Nair said GSLV Mark III, a new-generation launch vehicle under development, would meet the requirements of INSAT in the heavier payload class and would also help reduce the cost of access to space.

"Right now, the cost is $ 12,000 to $ 15,000 a kg and this can come down to $ 500 to $ 1,000 a kg and it can mean more frequent space missions. Other advancements such as air-breathing propulsion instead of carrying oxidation equipment on board will help, and orbit speeds of mach 12 to 15 may become possible,'' he explained.

Long-term research and development was being pursued on more advanced concepts of launch vehicles to enhance performance and further reduce the cost. "Reusability and recovery (of space capsules) will become the norm for next-generation vehicles. Studies have also started in the rocked-based combined cycle engine development ... a demonstrator towards developing newer technologies for the reusable launch vehicle is in the initial phase of designing, using concurrent engineering practices and an inter-disciplinary design approach,'' Mr. Nair said.

Some of the major R&D efforts of ISRO are in the areas of high-specific impulse propellants such as semi-cryogenics, high-strength materials, metal matrix components, nano-material, smart structures and high-energy fuel cells, he said. To meet these ambitious programmes, ISRO was looking at specific centres of excellence to carry out space-related research in the universities and academic institutions, covering both academic and theoretical aspects of materials science.

V.S. Arunachalam, former Scientific Advisor to the Defence Minister and now president, Centre for Science, Technology and Policy, Bangalore, presided over the function.