Missing its deadline to launch Chandrayaan-2 mission in 2018, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) hopes to begin the New Year on a grander note by tentatively considering the launch window on 3rd January. Scheduled to have been launched by now, the mission has undergone a lot of changes in its design and configuration. Confirming that ISRO has chosen 3rd January as the launch window, ISRO chairman K Sivan said, “We are working hard towards meeting the deadline. However, it is again an open window and perhaps goes on till March if we miss the deadline. However, between January and March, the mission will be launched.” Revealing changes in the configuration of the mission, Sivan explained, “The changes were crucial considering the soft landing of the module on the Lunar surface. The four engines would have whipped up the dust during the landing causing damage to the equipment and hence another engine was also added suggesting more fuel requirement for the soft landing.” Chalking out plans to celebrate the centenary birth anniversary of renowned scientist and father of India’s space programmes Dr Vikram Sarabhai, ISRO has announced to name the Chandrayaan-2 lander as ‘Vikram’ after its founding father. “The Space Commission has cleared the proposal. This will be one among several such initiatives planned all through the year to mark the centenary celebrations,” Sivan said, on the sidelines of unveiling the bust of Dr Vikram Sarabhai at ISRO headquarters in Bengaluru. Former ISRO chairman Dr Kasturirangan unveiled the bust of Sarabhai and recalled his contribution. Small vehicles Testing the commercial viability of its launch vehicles, ISRO will demonstrate the SSLV, also called as baby rocket, in May-June 2019. “The cost of launching SSLV will only be 1/10 of PSLV launch and will be able to carry a load of 500-700 kg. The vehicle measuring 34 mtrs-long with 2 mtrs in diameter will be an on-demand launcher. While it takes 45-60 days for a normal launch, SSLV can lift off in just 72 hours with just 5 to 6 people,” Dr Sivan explained. The ISRO will adopt the consortium approach to spur the production of the vehicle by individual industries. ISRO TV channel soon Unable to reach out to all parts of the country, ISRO plans to launch its own television channel to telecast customised science programmes. “Most of rural India is unaware of our space programmes, including my own village Tarakkanvillai, near Nagercoil. The story of our space programmes can be produced in various languages to benefit the children and arouse interest in science. As part of capacity building measures, ISRO will open its doors to students by picking children from classes 8th to 10th standard. “The students will be trained for 30 days and get exposure to various facilities at ISRO. This would help develop scientific temper. The students will visit all labs of the ISRO and launch facilities at Sri Harikota. At the end of the training they will make small satellites,” Dr Sivan said. Taking note of the robust startup eco-systems in Bengaluru, ISRO plans to tap into the talent pool and enrich its programmes with local talent. “We have planned six incubation centres across India to identify such talent pool. They need not join ISRO but can contribute towards the successful mission through their start-up ventures,” Dr Sivan explained.
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