The scientific objectives of Chandrayaan-2 were fully accomplished, which include moon surface mapping, and topographical studies, Minister of State for Department of Space Jitendra Singh said on Thursday, asserting that "despite setbacks in landing, we must remember that Chandrayaan had quite a successful journey up till now".
"Technologically, the launch was successful," the minister said while replying to Trinamool Congress' Rajya Sabha member Manas Ranjan Bhunia who questioned the failure of the Chandrayaan-2 mission.
Congratulating the scientists of the Indian Space Research Organisation for the Chandrayaan-2 journey, Bhunia asked why the mission had failed.
In response, Singh said that he acknowledged and appreciated Bhunia's compliment for the scientific fraternity, particularly, the space scientists, who have proved to be among the best in the world.
"Having said that, just to add to what he initially started off with, Chandrayaan was a mission which was very keenly watched by all of us and, in fact, every Indian. Therefore, there might have been some amount of disappointment. But I would like to submit that it would be unfair to describe it as a failure because in the scientific pursuits like this," he said.
The minister said that it a matter of procedural and process incidence which happened.
"There has not been a single country which has been able to successfully accomplish soft landing in less than two attempts. And, so to say, even the USA, which started its space journey much, much before us, many years before us, when we were still singing nursery rhymes 'Chanda Mama Door Ke', could manage soft landing only in the eighth attempt. But, we, having learnt from the experience of the other nations, I am sure, we would succeed soon."
After this, Bhunia questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was present in the House, about the condition of the orbiter, asking whether it was functioning properly and sending all the scientific messages, information, photographs, which will give benefits in future planning and future landing.
To this, Singh quoted the Prime Minister's two sentences after Chandrayaan's landing setback, saying Modi had then said that despite setbacks in landing, one must remember that Chandrayaan had quite a successful journey up till then.
Scientifically, there were two components of this Mission, which include the orbiter part also. "One was the scientific objective and the other was technological. Now, scientific objectives have been fully accomplished, which include moon surface mapping, topographical studies, radar-based studies and other," he said.
Jitendra Singh reiterated that entry into the earth's orbit was successful and then the entry into the lunar orbit. "Orbiter is very much there ... in subsequent attempt, this will cut down the cost as well because the lander is also there. So, orbiter has functioned normally. It was only in the last, say, about 30 kilometres that this incident or episode took place, which I would not describe as a failure," he said.
At this, Congress' Ripun Bora sought details of the government set-up new space organisation -- New Space India Limited. "It has been recently set up and it is the commercial arm of the ISRO. Another space research organisation, that is, the Asian Space Agency, has also been set up. I would like to know whether our government has further plans, in collaboration with these two new space organisations, to restart this mission," he asked.
Singh said that in 2019, PSU New Space India Ltd came into being. "The participation of these agencies, along with the industry, is actually guided by strict regulations. It is not exactly transferring it to the private sector; maybe, in the manufacturing of certain instruments, nuts and bolts, they come to our cooperation and help," he said.
He also said that in the last five-six years, there has been a very cautious effort to expand the space programme across the country. Earlier, in the initial decades, it was limited primarily to the southern part of India, but in 2018, the government moved towards the north and northeast. In Jammu, the government has set up a Space Research-cum-Academic Centre in the premises of the Central University, and in the NorthEast, in Agartala, in the premises of the NIT. Thereafter, in this year, the government have set up two more centres - one in Jaipur and the other one in IIT-Delhi, he added.
Replying to Congress member Jairam Ramesh's query whether the basic objective of space technology to deepen development with regard to water, forest, environment, geology are being carried out, Singh said in 2017 a two-day extensive brain exercise took place, wherein the scientists from the Department of Space interacted separately with each of the Ministries and Departments of the Central government to work out wherein the space technology could come in to provide ease of living.
"Today, space technology is extensively being used in our housing projects, including the smart city projects, in laying of railway tracks, manning of the railway crossings. The Geo-MGNREGA has been a very successful experiment to which we could also add the forest part."