From the earth to the moon!

Congrats to India on launching the Chandrayaan! Here is an explainer. And an older WSJ piece, India Looks for Its Own Elon Musk to Win the Space Race with China.

It’s a commentary on our times that the 21st-century “space race” is between India and China (and Elon and Jeff). As for me, I’m pretty happy, because no matter who wins the race, the human race will benefit from inspiration, science, and technology.

The only “brown” thing I will note is that Joan D. Vinge’s space opera Summer Queen features a dominant civilization which is obviously based on that of the Indian subcontinent. Brownz in space!!!

12 thoughts on “From the earth to the moon!”

  1. I am not getting all the hype around the mission. Like you have movie actors and sport stars tweeting about this stuff. India has send previous mission to moon. What’s so special about this one ? ?

    Also it s hardly a race, pretty sure like in all fields , China will emerge as the eventual winner. It’s pretty much similar to India Pakistan conflicts. For the first few rounds both can trade equal blows but the longer the race goes the stronger out of the two eventually wins

    Nothing to take away from the fact that ISRO is perhaps the only genuine world class government institution India has ever created. If not for them we would have perhaps lost already.

    1. It is not good to discount the achievements of India and write them off. . No doubt China is miles ahead , yet with a different political will in India , it will be easier to go from 1st gear to 5th gear.

    2. @Saurav

      It’s a soft landing on the moon. This is a big f’in deal. To deposit a spacecraft on the lunar surface requires getting an orbiter, a lander and a rover onto the surface, with enough liquid fuel to decelerate and land softly. Order of magnitude more challenging than simply sending a craft to orbit (as was Chandrayaan I) with a crash landed probe.

      Also significant is the use of the GSLV Mk III launcher — it’s comparable in payload capabilities to the middle end of the Ariane range of rockets of the European space agency. The development and continued operational success of a solid fuel medium lift rocket (after much stalled progress, no thanks to the Russians who started out collaborating, but ended up becoming flakier and flakier as their weariness grew as India transitioned into a serious competitor for the commercial launch market).

      This is also a big deal because once this is a technology demonstrator that GSLV mk III has the capabilities to launch probes into transfer orbits that could subsequently be maneuvered to the various Lagrange points of the earth sun system (local minima of the gravitational field you can orbit around, way further out than the moon). This paves the way for blue sky science missions like the Aaditya solar observatory. The cosmology community in India has also pitched for a mission (in collaboration with Europe) for an `ultimate’ map of the Cosmic Microwave Background. I’ve seen a longer list of proposals from the Indian astronomy community submitted for the last ISRO mission proposal call — folks are thinking big. Think radio telescopes orbiting, or deposited on the far side of the moon.

      As a kid in the 80’s watching NASA’s various exploits on TV, I’ve always wanted to come from a country that did such things. As of ten years ago, I can now be proud that I do. The impact on young kids minds watching this on TV cannot be understated.

      1. Thanks for explaining SP. Was genuinely flummoxed on all this media hype around this. Sounds like a pretty big deal

  2. yeah, my $ is on china. but india will at least “keep them honest.” at if indians or chinese go to mars, at least the indians wouldn’t go crazy, cuz they could just argue and argue all the way to mars.

    1. Indians actually did manage to reach Martian orbit, whereas Chinese haven’t managed to do it for now. So technically India is an interplanetary nation state … though by law space is not “owned” by any legal entity (yet).

      1. Half expecting that the Chinese will build some island like structure on mars orbit once they reach ??

  3. Huston, we have a problem. India may be the first to reach the moon and really walk on its surface ?. Seven key Apollo Nasa engineers were Serbs, moon trio shortly after their return to the earth, visited Belgrade and brought moon rocks as a present. Unbelievable (now)! Who could imagine that in 30 years they would come to bomb the same Belgrade and tried to destroy all river bridges? Only this destruction was prevented by French disagreement, the rest of industry, tv station, hospitals and electricity, not. Frenches also overtook India’s space program in only one thing. They first gave the name to their rocket – Ariana.

    Anyway, for good luck and safe return – Savage Garden: To the moon and back

  4. True. But ain’t sure if India ( or any country for that matter) can even keep them honest for long though. If we have 3 or 4 huawei type technology leaps from China in the coming years, India would still be sending stuff to mars/moon while China could be readying itself to explore another solar system or something.

  5. Apollo-11 took 4 days to reach the moon. Chandrayaan will take 2 months to reach the moon, making umpteen circles around it before landing.

    Who designed the route? Some Chennai auto-rickshaw wallah? 😉

  6. I am sure this counts as cultural appropriation now, but I really enjoyed way back when.

    Lord of Light (1967) is a science fantasy novel by American author Roger Zelazny. It was awarded the 1968 Hugo Award for Best Novel, and nominated for a Nebula Award in the same category. The context of the novel – modern western characters in a Hindu-Buddhist-infused world – is reflected in the book’s opening lines:

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