The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is to submit its Rp3,500 million ($75 million) lunar project to the Indian government for approval, says chairman Dr K Kasturirangan. Assuming the project is approved, work would begin by year-end, he says.

"ISRO has the technology and engineering know-how and is confident of the success of the lunar mission", Kasturirangan says, answering critics who have questioned the country's ability to fund the project and whether the mission would be useful. "Finance is not an issue. India's resources are quite vast and the country can definitely fund the project," he says.

According to Kasturirangan, the impetus to conduct the mission has come from a large community of Indian scientists who strongly back the lunar project. He says India may not be able put a man on the moon, but the country is open to collaboration with other space nations on joint experiments on the International Space Station. If such a partnership called for a manned presence in space, India could plan for it, says Kasturirangan.

India's moon mission will involve an orbiter to be launched into a lunar polar orbit at an altitude of 100km (62 miles) using India's own launch vehicle capability.

Source: Flight International