“We are waiting for a response,” Uma Maheshwaran told Hürriyet Daily News on Aug. 29 in a Turkish press meeting.
After two successive de-orbiting maneuvers, the ISRO’s Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft is set to the southern pole of the Moon on Sept. 7. The spacecraft will be the first mission in the South Pole and will look for water, Maheshwaran, said.
If the mission is achieved successfully, India will be the fourth country to manage landing on the Moon following the United States, China, and the former Soviet Union. The spacecraft Chandrayaan-2 takes its name from the merger of the Sanskrit words, “Moon” (Chandra) and “vehicle” (yaan)”.
The Moon mission was the most challenging project of ISRO, Maheshwaran said.
“Because nobody’s ever been to the South Pole before. It is a difficult mission because it is necessary to approach 90 degrees to the landing area,” he said noting that they predict there is a lot of water in the South Pole of the Moon and the vehicle will work on this topic.
Asked about any plans of colonization on Mars or Moon, he said India has no intention of colonizing there right now. But one day, if necessary, India will need this technology and the ability to use it, Maheshwaran noted. “Our priority now is to improve our space technology. Our people are excited. We need to make our people science-oriented.”
India’s entrance into space exploration over the last decade has been marked by a series of missions at low operational costs. ISRO tends to utilize the talent it has in-house and saves money on not hiring contractors. Also, the missions do not last very long, just a few years each.
“Whenever we make a mission, the economy part is always there,” he said. The difference in India’s space program from other examples in the world is that the costs are very cheap, according to the Indian scientist.
He noted that labor cost is cheap in his country and even the scientists in ISRO does not get big salaries. India examines unsuccessful financial initiatives and tries not to make the same mistakes, he added.
Mars is one-way ticket
Asked why India has not focused on more remote destinations such as Mars, but the Moon, Maheshwaran said that going to Mars currently is like “a one-way ticket”. He pointed at the fact that one day, people may need to take an intermediate stop, such as the Moon, to go back to Mars. India is currently developing its technology for such missions, he added.
“Our multi-purpose national satellite system is widely used for telecommunication, TV broadcasting, meteorology, disaster alert, and search and rescue activities. These satellites contributed greatly to the work and daily lives of Indian citizens. Agriculture, forestry monitoring, cartography, ocean monitoring, weather, fishing, food safety, water levels monitoring.”
Pre-harvest crop production estimation, horticulture crop inventory, monitoring wastelands, enabling water security, surface water spread maps, groundwater prospects are some sub-topics of these activities.
India also launched 297 international customer satellites from 33 countries.
Not a program for prestige, but for national development
“India has held the most conservative space program. We did not do it for prestige at all. We did it for national development,” Indian Foreign Ministry Secretary West Gitesh Sarma said.
Asked about a debate whether India should make such an investment on its space program given the fact of poverty in the country, Sarma said, adding this is a language of some European countries.
“Some Europeans say ‘You guys, don’t’ do this, this is not for you, it’s for us. Get rid of that.’ We are one of the fastest-growing economies. We have done tremendous achievements in poverty elimination. One can’t say ‘We’ll do this first and do that later’. Actually, in real life it doesn’t work like that. In every field, there has to be movement. One country that has technology does not share with the others. Especially when you need.”