The Exceptional Story of India’s Maiden Moon Shot

Vikram Sarabhai’s imaginative and prescient to begin the Indian Area Programme concerned constructing satellites and rockets for the betterment of the on a regular basis lifetime of the residents of unbiased India. On 18th April 2001, ISRO’s Geosynchronous Satellite tv for pc Launch Automobile (GSLV) efficiently launched. And thus, ISRO achieved all objectives set forth by Dr Sarabhai. It was, due to this fact, an acceptable time for India to hunt new avenues and discover planetary missions. This referred to as for India’s very personal moon shot: Chandrayaan-1.

The Genesis of Indian Lunar Mission – Chandrayaan-1

Within the 12 months 1998, India carried out the Pokhran nuclear checks within the month of Might. The checks have been a technological and strategic feat, for that they have been achieved hidden from the entire world. To commemorate this accomplishment, PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, declared eleventh Might because the Nationwide Expertise Day. You could be questioning how some nuclear checks achieved by the army and DRDO are related to the non-military Indian Area company. You’ll know in a minute.

On eleventh Might 1999, the primary Expertise Day was celebrated. At a operate in New Delhi, Dr Ok Kasturirangan indicated the potential for India endeavor a lunar mission utilizing the PSLV. This was the primary point out of an Indian Lunar Mission. He even mentioned that such a mission may take time and ‘if all goes effectively, it might be a actuality by 2008.’ I ponder if he knew how he had simply predicted the long run!

Quickly after, in 2000, a Nationwide Lunar Mission Activity Pressure was arrange with an intention to arrange a report and submit for parliamentary approval. In 2003, the report was unanimously really useful to the federal government by a pool of hundred scientists. The thought of a lunar mission picked up parliamentary help and the Prime Minister talked about, “… now I believe there’s a political curiosity on this; there’s a normal societal curiosity on this. I would definitely make an announcement.” On fifteenth August 2003, he declared the Chandrayaan-1 mission. There’s an fascinating story behind the announcement.

ISRO had really useful Mr Bajpayee to name the mission Somayaan, however he introduced it as Chandrayaan-1. When requested later, he replied that he consulted some Sanskrit students and Chandrayaan was a greater title. He additionally added that he put it as Chandrayaan-1 as a result of India shouldn’t be going for one mission; we have to have a long-term planetary exploration programme. Maybe, that is the sort of angle {that a} nation requires from its Political leaders. Lastly, in November 2003, Chandrayaan-1 bought parliamentary approval.

Earth as viewed by Chandrayaan-1 on 29 Oct. 2008 & TMC Globe View
Earth as seen by Chandrayaan-1 on 29 Oct. 2008 & TMC Globe View (Credit: ISSDC)

The mission is Permitted! What to pack for the Journey?

Parliament permitted Chandrayaan-1. The price range was allotted. We have been able to go to the Moon, however what to take alongside? To grasp the science (payloads) chosen for Chandrayaan, let’s have a look at the historical past of Lunar Exploration.

A quick historical past of Lunar Exploration

The Soviets and Individuals utilized each trick within the ebook to discover the lunar floor again within the chilly conflict period. With the appearance of space-age by Sputnik-1 launch, each the nations have been engaged in an area conflict. The Soviets reached the Moon first with their Luna satellites and even landed rovers referred to as ‘Lunakhods’ to discover the floor. To high all of it off, the USA despatched people to the Moon. Apollo was an enormous success. We not solely did experiments on the Moon, however the astronauts additionally introduced lunar regolith (soil) samples again to the Earth. Even, India bought a few of these samples (due to Dr Sarabhai’s connections) to undertake experiments.

Apollo Mission Patch
Apollo Mission Patch

However after Luna and Apollo, the Moon bought sidelined. There was no devoted mission to Moon for the subsequent 14 years. Lastly, with the appearance of Asian house nations like Japan, China, and India got here the Renaissance of Lunar Exploration. Clementine, a NASA spacecraft, detected the presence of water ice within the south polar area of Moon in 1994. This renewed curiosity concerning the Moon and twenty first Century noticed a burst of missions. ESA launched SMART-1 in 2003, Japan Kaguya in Sept 2007, China Chang’e-1 in Oct 2007 and eventually, India Chandrayaan-1 in October 2008.

The Seek for Payloads for Chandrayaan-1

After the parliamentary approval in 2003, a Science Advisory Board (SAB) was established by ISRO. They took the Nationwide Lunar Mission Activity Report as a place to begin whereas evaluating the deliberate missions by ESA, Japan, China, and the USA. Lastly, they selected 5 Indian payloads. The spacecraft configuration zeroed in on a mannequin with had some margins in mass, energy and house. ISRO, due to this fact, determined to accommodate one other payload of most 10 Kgs and 10 W energy consumption. SAB then referred to as an Announcement of Alternative for any lab exterior ISRO.

The Indian Area Company acquired a whopping 26 variety of proposals from throughout continents. The SAB favored two of NASA’s devices, however they each collectively exceeded the ten Kg requirement. After some discussions and deliberations, ISRO optimized Chandrayaan-1 to accommodate 25 Kg. NASA and ISRO optimized the 2 devices, and instantly, Chandrayaan-1 had a complete of additional six science payloads.

In 2004, a scaled mannequin of Chandrayaan-1 with 4 Indian and 6 overseas payloads was offered at ‘Sixth Worldwide Convention on the Exploration and Utilization of the Moon’. The convention was held in Udaipur, Rajasthan, in November 2004. However a veteran house scientist’s suggestion added a significant payload to the spacecraft.

Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, the then President of India, urged including a lander/ impactor to Chandrayaan-1. And therefore, an eleventh payload, Moon Impression Probe was added.

Chandrayaan-1 Science Coverage
Chandrayaan-1 Science Protection (Credit: Max Planck Institute)

Overview of the Spacecraft


  1. To additional improve the already acquired information concerning the Moon.

  2. To realize additional progress in India’s capability to construct extra environment friendly rockets and satellites, particularly via miniaturization.

  3. To supply difficult alternatives for younger scientists of India to do analysis in new and thrilling areas just like the examine of planets.


  1. To {photograph} the floor of the Moon in such a means that size, breadth, and top of the floor options of the Moon might be discovered precisely. That is referred to as 3D imaging and may result in the preparation of a extra correct map of the Moon.

  2. To organize a map of the Moon precisely displaying the best way wherein varied parts and minerals are distributed over its floor.

  3. To organize a map of the Moon that reveals completely different geological areas there clearly

Overview of Payloads of Chandrayaan-1 Spacecraft (Credits: ISRO)
Overview of Payloads of Chandrayaan-1 Spacecraft (Credit: ISRO)


  • Measurement and Form: 1.5 m cuboid with 600 Kg mass within the Lunar Orbit

  • Management: 3-axis stabilized utilizing response wheels and angle management thrusters;

    solar sensors, star sensors, and miniaturized DTGs for orientation reference.

  • Energy: 700 W Photo voltaic Panel with 36Ah Li-Ion Battery

  • Propulsion: Bi-propellant Liquid Apogee Motor

  • Communication: S-band for Telemetry and X-band for Payload knowledge transmission


Chandrayaan-1 Launch

PSLV’s new variant (launching for the primary time) PSLV-XL launched Chandrayaan-1 on twenty second October 2008. The launch automobile positioned the spacecraft in a 250 km X 23,000 km preliminary Earth Parking Orbit. This was adopted by a collection of perigee manoeuvres to lift the apogee to 380,000 km in 17 days. Lastly, Chandrayaan-1 was positioned in 100 km round orbit round Moon on twelfth November 2008.

The trajectory to succeed in Moon was a particular one. It took a very long time however much less gasoline. An entire completely different article is deliberate on understanding this trajectory.

PSLV-C11 Lift Off
PSLV-C11 Carry Off (Credit: ISRO)

Floor Phase

Chandrayaan-1 was India’s first mission above the 36,000 km Geosynchronous vary. This required higher and extra environment friendly floor segments to be constructed. After surveying a number of attainable websites, ISRO finalized to arrange two giant dish antennas at Byalalu, about 40 km from Bangalore. This established the Indian Deep Area Community. L&T was one of many industrial companions concerned in establishing this facility.

Together with IDSN, Indian Area Science Information Centre was established. It goals to retailer, retrieve and distribute scientific knowledge from Indian Area Science Missions.

Discovering Water on the Moon

Over its brief mission life, Chandrayaan-1 achieved some nice science. Itemizing all of the achievements of scientific knowledge in a single article will not be even attainable as a result of scientists are conducting analysis primarily based on the info even as we speak. However one discovery by India’s maiden lunar mission deserves its story to be informed. The invention of water molecules on the Moon!

NASA’s Moon Mineral Mapper (M3) may detect the presence of H2O molecule and OH by wanting on the absorption spectrum of the lunar floor. This meant M3 may search for water within the sunlit areas of the Moon. But it surely was earlier conjectured that if there may be water on the Moon, it’ll be at nighttime areas. Subsequently, when M3 discovered traces of hydroxyl within the mirrored daylight, it was a contented shock for the entire crew.

When M3 continued to search out traces for months, the crew determined it was certainly a breakthrough in lunar science. They determined to attempt to validate their discovery by utilizing another spacecraft which had the identical functionality. NASA’s Deep Impression mission on its return journey from the Comet 9P/Tempel was good for this validation. After some dialogue and some months, the crew was in a position to get Deep Impression to take a look at Moon and there it was. Identical options have been current in Deep Impression knowledge as effectively.

Moon Impact Probe
Moon Impression Probe (Credit: ISRO)

So as to add to all these scientific knowledge, some scientists of M3 crew, remembered that Cassini, NASA’s Saturn Exploration Spacecraft, had calibrated its devices by Moon. They bought maintain of the Cassini archived knowledge and certainly, the hydroxyl and water signatures have been current there as effectively. Chandrayaan-1 had certainly found water on the Moon, and it was revealed within the Science journal together with Cassini and Deep Impression knowledge.

Different devices onboard Chandrayaan-1 just like the Chandrayaan-1 Altitude Compositional Experiment (ChACE), part of the Moon Impression Probe (MIP), revealed indicators of water (H2O) and carbon dioxide (CO2) molecules because it descended to the lunar floor. Even NASA’s mini-SAR discovered the presence of sub-surface ice in completely shadowed areas of the lunar south pole. NASA confirmed this discovery with its LCROSS and LRO missions.

India’s maiden moon shot turned the beacon for the invention of water on the Moon!

Finish of the Mission

Chandrayaan-1 was general a extremely profitable mission. However endeavor a maiden planetary mission with no surprises can be inconceivable. For us, the DC/DC converters onboard the spacecraft failed earlier within the mission. These failures disabled the spacecraft to make the most of the star sensor for orientation referencing. The spacecraft crew got here up with a singular strategy of working the spacecraft utilizing the info from all of the science payloads. Subsequently Chandrayaan-1 was in a position to obtain nice science, together with discovering water on the Moon. Lastly, on twenty ninth August 2009, all contact was misplaced subsequent to the failure of redundant DC/DC converters.


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