Saturday, August 16, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Moon mission announcement reflects long strides
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 15
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s announcement today from the ramparts of the Red Fort of sending the country’s spacecraft to the Moon by 2008 is a signal to the international community as well as a demonstrator of the extremely sensitive and limited cryogenic engine technology it possesses.

Mr Vajpayee’s announcement — first by him with regard to the Moon mission — reflects India’s strides in space technology despite sanctions from the USA. It also reflects that New Delhi will take care of its long-term strategic interests in every arena, be it Antarctica or the Moon.

India’s growing space programme is increasingly under the microscope of world powers like the USA and China, the latter itself set to send its maiden manned mission to the Moon later this year.

The USA has, for over a decade, opposed tooth and nail Russian and European assistance in some sensitive areas of the Indian space programme, particularly the Russian decision of 1992 to sell cryogenic technology to India.

India had earlier this year launched a satellite through an indigenously prepared cryogenic rocket on an experimental basis and the launch was successful.

Washington had been opposing India’s growing prowess in space technology on the ground that it was a dual-use technology which could be put to military use.

Mr Vajpayee’s announcement from the Red Fort today is indicative of his commitment to the country’s long-term strategic interests.

Now that the colonisation of the Moon is viewed as a distinct possibility, it is imperative for India not to miss the bus.

The international scientific community has been toying with the idea of using the Moon as a base for missions into deep space for research, exploration and eventual colonisation.

By sending Chandrayaan-I — an unmanned mission to the Moon costing about Rs 300 crore — India will be using the event as a technology demonstrator to the world as it will show that India possesses high technology in fields like rocketry, navigation and communications.

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