A day after Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) Chairman Kailasavadivoo Sivan announced that the Chandrayaan-2 will take off in the month of July, former chairman of ISRO G. Madhavan Nair (2003-2009) has made some sensational revelations over the delay in India's second lunar exploration mission after Chandrayaan-1.
In an exclusive interview to Republic on Thursday, Madhavan Nair stated that the Chandrayaan 2 mission got delayed because the then Dr Manmohan Singh-led UPA-2 government at that time (2009-2014) decided to go with a Mars mission and diverted the preparations to that mission even as all approvals were in place. Furthermore, he revealed that certain "political uncertainties" delayed the space program.
"When Chandrayaan 1 was launched and Chandrayaan 2 was scheduled for 2012, all approvals were in place, the UPA 2 government at that time thought it was better to go for a Mars mission before Chandrayaan 2. Whatever preparations (unclear) were made for Chandrayaan 2 was diverted and the Mars Mission was started (unclear), though that was also a good milestone for the country. But the second thing is once you lose the momentum, it will take some time to pick it up. I am really happy that the leadership change in ISRO has really helped that. (Unclear) In the past, there were political problems, political uncertainties in UPA 2 that caused some delay in the program," Madhavan Nair said.
Later, responding to questions, he said that the UPA government thought that a Mars mission will give the party more credit ahead of the elections, calling it unfortunate that the then Dr Manmohan Singh government did not give thrust to ISRO to launch both Mars mission and Chandrayaan-2 simultaneously.
"They (UPA 2) thought sending Mars Mission will give them more credit before elections. ISRO as an organisation is capable is performing complex missions with minimum cost provided leadership and guidance is given by govt. But during UPA 2, it was very unfortunate that that kind of thrust was not given to ISRO," the former ISRO chairman added.
Praising PM Modi's effort towards bringing a difference in the organisation of ISRO, Mr Madhavan Nair said that now the space organisation is on fast-track with multiple missions happening every year.
"After Modiji took over, things are different. The man mission is a risky and forward-looking mission which will put the country much ahead of others. Modiji has taken the initiative and put the organisation on top. Every program in ISRO is now on a fast-track mode. Today every year 28 missions are happening. It is one step ahead to what we have contributed. New experimental activities have been taken by the current chairman," he added.
The architect of Chandrayaan-1, India's first unmanned mission to the moon launched on October 22, 2008, served as the chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the secretary in the Department of Space from 2003 to 2009. He had said in August, 2009 that Chandrayaan-2 was slated for launch towards the end of 2012, however the project got delayed under UPA-2.
India's maiden mission Chandrayaan-1 was launched on October 22, 2008, from the spaceport at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh, 90 km northeast of Chennai. Under the Rs 10,000-crore Chandrayaan-2 mission, the 3,890-kg spacecraft will be launched onboard the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mk-3, and it will orbit around the Moon to study its conditions and collect data of its topography, mineralogy and exosphere.
Chandrayaan-2, India's second mission to the moon, will launch on July 15 at 2.51 am on board the GSLV MK-III vehicle from the spaceport of Sriharikota.