India’s national space agency (W500A) has announced that the country’s first lunar mission is on track after construction began on a $22 million deep space tracking centre near Bangalore earlier this month.
Under the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) Chandrayaan-I mission, the satellite will be launched on one of its PSLV rockets in late 2007. The ISRO has eight satellites in operation providing more than 150 communication transponders but this will be the first time that India launches to outside the Earth’s orbit.
A 32m (105ft) diameter antenna and ground control centre for controlling and tracking the satellite will be housed at the new site. This will be capable of receiving data from the satellite orbiting the Moon.
All preliminary design for the satellite has been completed and the configuration has been finalised. It will follow a polar orbit of the Moon for its two-year lifespan, mapping the lunar surface.
The satellite will have a launch weight of 1,300kg (2,900lb) reducing to 520kg in orbit. It will carry a terrain mapping camera along with laser mapping instruments and an impactor which will detach and hit the lunar surface. The satellite will also carry three instruments for the European Space Agency (ESA), and an instrument for the Bulgarian agency.
S Krishnamurthy, a director at the ISRO, says: “Everything is progressing as planned for a launch in late 2007. We already had most of the technology needed for this launch so the incremental cost of undertaking this mission was not very great.
“We have a large scientific community involved in the industry and this project has provided some new challenges for them, with the developments from this feeding into our remote satellites.”

Source: Flight Daily News