Surprisingly, India is due to send an unmanned spacecraft to the moon, cementing their place in history as contenders in the Asian space race. Chandrayaan-1 is scheduled to blast off from an Indian-built rocket at 06:20 on Wednesday from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota in southern Tamil Nadu state.
Read some facts about the mission here:
The Chandrayaan-1 is being sent on a two-year mission to provide an in-depth map of the lunar surface’s mineral, chemical and topographical characteristics. * The cost of the operation has been estimated at more than $80m.
Over the weekend, Indian scientists performed the tricky task of moving the 44.4m tall rocket with the spacecraft onto a massive mobile pedestal that propelled the vehicle towards the launch site.
Chandrayaan-1, with a launch weight of about 1.3 tonnes, is shaped like a cuboid or rectangular prism and carries 11 payloads – five from India and others from abroad.
India will share the data collected during the mission with other countries.
The space craft will conduct a lunar orbit at a distance of 385 000km from Earth.
India started its space programme in 1963, developing its own satellites and launch vehicles to reduce dependence on overseas agencies.
It carried out the first successful launch of a domestic satellite by a home-built rocket in 1980.