The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) may officially maintain that it is not in race with China so far as its space endeavours go, but the space programmes of the two leading economies cannot be viewed in isolation given that both are trying to make their mark.
As India prepares to land on the Moon in the first three months of 2019 — preparations for Chandrayaan-2 have gathered steam in the past few weeks — China, according to reports in the official media, is planning to put man-made moons in space by 2022.
As per reports in the Chinese media, Beijing has already conceived a man-made moon, which is expected to be realised in 2022. The Science and Technology Daily reported that China has plans for at least three man-made moons, which can reflect sunlight on to the pre-decided areas any time of the day.
Reports quoted Wu Chunfeng, head of Tianfu New District System Science Research Institute in Chengdu, Southwest China’s Sichuan province, as saying: “ … These three huge mirrors will divide the 360-degree orbital plane, realizing illuminating an area for 24 hours continuously.”
He allayed fears of such a technology affecting the natural day-night cycle by saying that the illumination from these mirrors can be controlled.
Meanwhile, Isro is working overtime to achieve the launch of Chandrayaan-2 in early 2019, even as some challenges are yet to be overcome. Earlier in the month, a key payload on the Lander — now named Vikram after Vikram Sarabhai, the father of Indian space programme — left the Space Application Centre (SAC) in Ahmedabad for UR Rao Satellite Centre in Bengaluru for testing and integration.
Also, just last week, a cryo engine of the GSLV MK-III, which will be used to launch Chandrayaan-2, completed a crucial heat test. However, there is still a lot of work before Isro can launch the second mission to Moon.
Chandrayaan-2, unlike the first mission, involves a Lander soft-landing on the lunar surface and unloading a Rover to study and take measurements from the Moon, while the orbiter will go around the Earth’s satellite.
SOURCE : TNN