Lunar project could serve as testbed for flights to other planets, according to scientists

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has completed plans to undertake a mission to the moon and the proposals are expected to be forwarded to the government soon for a decision.

ISRO chairman Dr K Kasturirangan says the organisation has already set up a high level committee to look into the nature of experiments that could be assigned to the Indian lunar probe.

Initial studies have shown that a modified version of India's operational Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), which currently features alternate solid and liquid fuel stages, could be used as the vehicle for sending the probe to moon.


By modifying the upper stage of the four-stage PSLV into a translunar injection stage with a propellant loading of 2,200kg (4,800lb), the vehicle could be used to send a 530kg spacecraft on a fly-by mission or place a 350kg spacecraft into orbit around the moon.

Alternatively, the cryogenically fuelled 401t (880,000lb) three-stage Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV), which had its maiden flight in April, could send a spacecraft between 850kg and 950kg on a lunar fly-by mission, or a 600kg craft to orbit the moon. Modification would include a translunar stage with a propellant 3,400kg load.

According to the ISRO, a lunar mission could serve as a testbed for future missions by India to explore other planets.

Kasturirangan says that the ISRO will be able to launch a mission to the moon within six years of obtaining the go-ahead from the government.

The Bangalore-based ISRO Satellite Centre is expected to design and develop the lunar probe, while the Ahmedabad-based Physical Research Laboratory, a centre of excellence for space sciences study, along with other research and academic institutions in the country, would develop the experimental packages.

Source: Flight International