Earlier on January 10, 2007, the PSLV-C7 rocket had placed Indian communication satellite Cartosat-2 and SRE-1 (Space Capsule Recovery Experiment-1) into orbit about the Earth, along with communication satellites from Argentina and Indonesia. The PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle) is an expendable launch system that places large satellites into heliosynchronous orbits and small satellites into geostationary transfer orbits.
The 1,210 pound (550 kilogram) SRE-1 spacecraft was built to be an orbital platform for scientific experiments in space and to bring orbiting space capsules back to the Earth. SRE-1 succeeded in its mission when it deorbited from orbit about the Earth, used aerodynamic braking to reduce its speed while descending into the Earth’s atmosphere, and used a parachute system to reduce its speed further before landing in the waters of the Bay of Bengal. Flotation devices were used to keep the SRE-1 spacecraft afloat in the water until it was retrieved.
The successful return of SRE-1 helps to advance India’s tentative plans to send an unmanned probe to the Moon in February 2008. The Itwo-year Indian unmanned lunar project is called Chandrayaan (“Moon Craft”). It will use a modified PSLV rocket to propel a probe into lunar orbit where it will map the Moon’s surface with highly detailed sensing equipment in the visible, near infrared, and certain x-ray frequencies of the electromagnetic spectrum.
The 2,875 pound (1,304 kilogram) Chandrayaan also includes a lunar impactor (“Moon Impact Probe”), along with payloads from other space agencies such as NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration, United States), ESA (European Space Agency, seventeen European member countries), and BASA (Bulgarian Aerospace Agency, Bulgaria). The ISRO hopes to eventually send manned missions into space using technology it develops from SRE-1, PSLV, and other projects.
Now, besides India, only the United States, Russia, and China have re-entered orbiting spacecraft through the atmosphere and successfully landed them either on land or water. India also joins the United States, Russia, China, Japan, and France as being the only countries to have deployed a reusable spacecraft.
The Web page of the Indian Space Research Organization is: http://www.isro.org/.
Information about Indian’s Chandrayaan lunar mission is found at: http://www.chandrayaan-1.com/.
The Web page of the Bulgarian Aerospace Agency is: http://www.space.bas.bg/.
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