BANGALORE: India plans to send a manned mission to the moon sometime between 2005 and 2015, a senior space research official said yesterday.
“In a few months from now, there will be a review of our plans for a lunar mission.
“We would first send an unmanned flight around the moon,” said Krishnaswamy Kasturirangan, head of the Indian Space Research Organisation, or Isro.
Kasturirangan made the announcement in a speech to the Indian Science Congress. He did not give further details.
Isro builds India’s satellites and launches them from either its own facility on the south-eastern coast or from launch pads abroad.
Kasturirangan said India’s latest launch vehicle could put satellites weighing up to 2,000kg into a geostationary orbit, in which a satellite remains above the same spot on earth.
Future developments would enable the launch of satellites weighing up to 4,000kg, he told the conference of scientists here, India’s technology hub.
Some 6,000 delegates, including 120 scientists from abroad, attended the three-day annual forum, which started on Friday.
They were also discussing topics including genome research, nanotechnology, climate change and information technology.
At the same forum, a senior Nasa official said the US research body was keen to get Indian help in analysing its satellite data.
“We are swimming in a sea of data sent in by our satellites,” said Jim Dodge, program director of earth sciences at National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
“All this will have to be modelled and put into small amounts of data to be given to the society.
“Here is where India, with its mathematicians and scientists, can help,” Dodge told the gathering.
Dodge, however, did not elaborate on whether Nasa would be hiring Indians or subcontracting work to Indian agencies.
He said Nasa’s focus had shifted to analysing existing information to help farmers, weather forecasters and others, from merely expanding the base of data collection.
He said Nasa was more interested in putting years of data in a moving graphic format that made it easy to understand the planet’s behaviour. – AP