As India's ambitious mission to the Moon successfully took to the skies on Monday, scientists across the country congratulated space agency ISRO and said it is a demonstration of the country's technological excellence, scientific potential and the spirit of exploration.
The powerful GSLV-MkIII-M1 rocket lifted-off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre from the spaceport in Sriharikota and successfully placed the 3,850-kg Chandrayaan-2 into the Earth's orbit about 16 minutes later. The success came a week after the launch was called off on July 15 following a technical glitch in the three-state rocket.
The Rs 978 crore mission that will mark a giant leap in India's space research and make it only the fourth country to have landed a rover on Moon will benefit almost every citizen of the country and beyond, several space scientists said.
"Congratulations to ISRO on a successful launch, which is the first important step in a series of complex steps that will culminate in the soft landing of the lander and rover on the Moon's surface," said Dibyendu Nandi, professor at Kolkata's Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER).
"Today, as scientists and citizens, we unite to hail the achievements of our space scientists and engineers. Their work has made us self-reliant in telecommunications, geospatial imaging and weather forecasting technologies -- advances that critically support our growth as a nation, whose benefits touch almost every citizen of this country and beyond, Nandi told PTI.
Sudip Bhattacharyya, associate professor at Mumbai's Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), added that Chandrayaan-2 is very important for three reasons: demonstration of technological excellence, scientific potential and the spirit of exploration. Bhattacharya said the successful operation of the lander and the rover of Chandrayaan-2 will be a big progress in this direction.
"The current time will possibly be remembered as the beginning of human exploration of the solar system, and the Moon, being our nearest cosmic object, is our first place to set up outposts for scientific experiments and observations to understand the Earth-Moon system, their origin and evolution, for understanding the deep space better, for technological tests and demonstration, and for further exploration," Bhattacharyya told PTI in an email interview.
He added that the further study of water and its distribution in the Moon by instruments onboard Chandrayaan-2 will be particularly important, not only for scientific understanding in the fields of astronomy, physics, chemistry and extra-terrestrial life but also for setting up self-sufficient human outposts. Bhattacharya described Chandrayaan-2 as crucial for Indian space exploration and any future human missions to the Moon.
"This a significant step forward for Indian interplanetary mission. India has already demonstrated orbital injection and orbit transfer technology needed for the task in earlier missions such as Chandrayaan-1 and Mangalyaan. What is new and crucial here is the soft-landing of the lunar probe and the rover," said Rajesh Kumble Nayak from IISER
He noted that landing on a celestial object is a significant step by itself.
"... Call it a technological demonstration or a science mission, it makes the entire nation proud. While the USA is celebrating 50 years of first Lunar landing, we will have our reasons for celebration," Nayak said.
Sounak Mukherjee from IISER Kolkata said India was becoming one of the frontiers of space science and technology with the efforts of ISRO and its recent ventures, including the Chandrayaan, Mars Orbiter Mission and satellite launches.
"A successful mission would make India the fourth country to soft-land on the Moon, which is a big achievement for it to be recognized in the field of scientific progress, said Mukherjee.
He added that he was looking forward to the data it will collect.
"It would be revolutionary if, on further investigation, we can obtain some valuable results or conclusions regarding the lunar surface, its exosphere or even the possibility of life forms on the moon," Mukherjee said.
"The Chandrayaan-2 programme is extremely exciting. Especially, the Vikram lander which will carry out several scientific experiments on the lunar surface... (it) will be interesting to further explore its environment, for example, its surface constituents and its connection to the Earth's environment," said Kuntal Chatterjee, a PhD student at Technical University in Berlin.