The Chandrayaan-2 is currently being prepped for the space mission.
Sriharikota: President Ram Nath Kovind has arrived at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh to witness the live launch of the Chandrayaan-2, the Indian space mission that aims to place a robotic rover on the moon, at 2:51 am on Monday. The 20-hour countdown for the launch, which will be assisted by the GSLV Mk III, had started at 6:51 am today. The satellite launch has gained worldwide attention owing to its low budget as well as the Indian Space Research Organisation's growing influence in the field of space exploration. A number of public figures, from actor Akshay Kumar to politician D Raja, praised the scientists who worked on the project. Here are the top 10 developments ahead of the Chandrayaan-2 lift-off:
- The 3.8-tonne satellite will be taken to the moon on the 640-tonne GSLV Mk III (nicknamed "Baahubali"), India's most powerful rocket that's as high as a 15-storey building. This will be the third time it is being put to use.
- After its lift-off from Sriharikota, the Chandrayaan-2 will head to the south pole of the moon for a soft landing. The journey of 3.84 lakh kilometres will take nearly two months to complete.
- All the equipment involved in the Chandrayaan-2 mission — from its orbiter to lander and rover — have been designed and manufactured in India. It is a sequel to the successful Chandrayaan-1, which helped confirm the presence of water on the moon in 2009.
- An analysis published by Sputnik International claimed that the approximate $124-million price tag of the Chandrayaan-2 is less than half the budget of Hollywood blockbuster Avengers Endgame ($356 million). The Indian space agency has a budget that's 20 times less than NASA, its US counterpart.
- If India succeeds in this moon mission, it will become the fourth country to soft-land a spacecraft on the lunar surface after the US, Russia and China. Israel had tried earlier this year but failed.
- Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar expressed his appreciation for the fact that the project director and the mission director of the Chandrayaan-2 are both women. Communist Party of India leader D Raja also termed the moon mission as a "great achievement".
- However, ISRO chief K Sivan claimed that the time for celebration hasn't come yet. "The 15-minute final descent will be our most terrifying moments because we have never undertaken such a complex mission," he said.
- The Chandrayaan-2 mission will carry the Vikram, a 1.4-tonne lander, which will in turn set the 27-kilogramme rover Pragyan down on a high plain between two craters on the lunar south pole.
- Scientists are currently carrying out last-minute checks ahead of the launch and fuelling the GSLV Mk III for its long journey ahead. After touchdown on the moon, the rover is expected to conduct experiments for 14 Earth days.
- India's next big mission will involve sending a human into orbit through Gaganyaan by 2022. Most experts say the geo-strategic stakes are high, and India's assertion of its space power through low-cost models could win it lucrative commercial satellite and orbiting deals in the future.
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