Lunar and Planetary Institute
Lunar and Planetary Institute



India Sets Launch Date for Chandryaan-1 Mission to the Moon

October 7, 2008

This artist’s concept shows the Indian lunar spacecraft Chandrayaan-1.Indian space officials have announced that the launch date of Chandryaan-1 will be October 22, weather conditions permitting.

The spacecraft will orbit the Moon, surveying its surface with high-resolution equipment. The launch had been scheduled for April, but was pushed back due to technical problems. Chandrayaan-1 is India’s first mission to the Moon. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), founded in 1969, launched its first satellite in 1975 but has not yet sent a satellite beyond Earth’s orbit. (The name “Chandrayaan” means “Moon Craft” in Sanskrit, the language of ancient India.)

The project will cost INR 3.8 billion ($83M U.S. dollars) and has the direct involvement of six other countries, including the U.S. and Europe. Over the next two years, it will survey the lunar surface to produce a complete map of its chemical characteristics and its three-dimensional topography. The goals of the mission are not only to expand ISRO’s capabilities, but to help resolve long-standing questions about the Moon’s history.

Chandryaan-1 will deploy a powerful suite of instruments. The European Space Agency (ESA) has supplied three instruments:  the Chandrayaan-1 X-ray Spectrometer (C1XS), the Near InfraRed spectrometer (SIR-2), and the Sub KeV Atom Reflecting Analyser (SARA). These instruments will investigate the Moon’s surface and near-surface composition, and the way the lunar body interacts with the fast-moving particles streaming away from the Sun. Chandrayaan-1 will also drop a small impact probe on to the lunar surface to test its properties.

The Bulgarian Academy of Science provided the Radiation Dose Monitor Experiment (RADOM), which will qualitatively and quantitatively characterize, in terms of particle flux, dose rate, and deposited energy spectrum, the radiation environment in near Moon space. NASA provided two instruments:  the Miniature Synthetic Aperture Radar (MiniSAR), which will detect water ice in the permanently shadowed regions on the lunar poles up to a depth of a few meters, and the Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3), which will provide high-resolution mineral compositional maps that will improve our understanding of the early evolution of a differentiated planetary body and provide a high-resolution assessment of lunar resources.

India announced its Moon mission in 2003, also announcing plans to send a man to the Moon in the next few years. Together with China and Japan, India is part of a quickly developing Asian space sector.

For more information, visit

Chandrayaan-1:  India’s First Mission to the Moon

Explore Space Topics:  Chandrayaan-1

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Last updated October 7, 2008