Emily Lakdawalla • Oct 17, 2008
Getting close to the launch of Chandrayaan-1!
Chandrayaan-1 is due to launch on October 22 at 00:58 UTC (that's October 21 at 17:58 Pacific time; click here for a table of other cities). I am deeply grateful to the British Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) for actually posting the launch time -- it's the first time I'd seen it online (though I did eventually find slightly different launch times posted in some Indian news stories).
For those of you who live in the UK, STFC is hosting a live launch event, kicking off just after midnight local time; and I'm sure they'll be showing this neato animation of the spacecraft using its X-ray camera, C1XS, to map the abundance of magnesium, aluminum, and silicon across the lunar surface. It was produced for them by Doug Ellison, whose day job involves 3D animation, of inner space rather than outer space.
I don't have any further information on the launch preparations; I did come across one tiny little image of the launch vehicle, taken on October 11. I found a larger version of the same photo (credited differently) here.
Comments posted to the Indian media stories about the upcoming launch reveal that there is quite an active internal debate in India over whether the government should be spending funds on science missions when India is still a developing nation with great needs in the development of basic infrastructure -- roads, communications, power, and education, feeding, and health care for its vast poor. My instinct is that it's not a zero-sum game -- that by investing in projects that make India a technological peer with the United States and Europe (and perhaps more importantly for India, China), there will be a worthwhile return in the form of greater trade, greater investment, a more educated and more productive work force, and so on. But I'm no economist so I can't say. In the event, there is clearly the will to proceed out into space among India's leaders, as India is now poised to join the elite club of planet-hopping nations.
You Can Be a Planetary Defender!
Support the team of astronomers defending Earth with a gift today.Defend Earth