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India in successful launch of space craft to the moon

India is celebrating the successful launch of its Chandrayaan-2 rocket, which has now started its journey to the moon. It’s India’s second attempt to launch the unmanned lunar mission and to further its dreams of space exploration.

Chandrayaan-2, which means “moon craft” in ancient Sanskrit, launched as planned at 2:43 p.m. from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre on India’s southeastern coast. It is expected to make a soft landing in the moon’s south pole region in early September — a feat that would make India the fourth country to make a controlled landing on the moon’s surface, after the United States, Russia and China.

After the landing, a moon rover will explore water deposits India discovered on a previous moon mission, 11 years ago. That first lunar spacecraft, Chandrayaan-1, used radar to map the moon’s surface but did not touch down on the moon.

The new mission could help scientists chart potential sources of water and learn more about how the solar system formed billions of years ago.

Monday’s launch marked India’s second attempt to launch the Chandrayaan-2 mission. Last week, the Indian Space Research Organization called off the event less than an hour before liftoff, citing a “technical snag.”

The launch of Chandrayaan-2 comes on the heels of the 50th anniversary of the first humans setting foot on the moon, with Neil Armstrong’s historic moonwalk.

For years, India’s space agency has been known for operating on a shoestring budget. The current lunar mission cost about $140 million.

But frugality hasn’t stopped the agency from achieving success. In 2014, India became the first country to reach Mars on its first attempt, catapulting the nation to a new place among elite space explorers. Its space agency spent significantly less on that mission than Hollywood did to make the film Gravity, which cost around $100 million, NPR’s Lauren Frayer reports.

In March, as tensions with neighboring Pakistan flared up, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the country had successfully tested an anti-satellite weapon, shooting down one of its own low-orbiting satellites with a ballistic missile interceptor.

After Monday’s blastoff, Modi channeled Indian nationalism. “Special moments that will be etched in the annals of our glorious history!” he tweeted. The launch of Chandrayaan-2 was “a fully indigenous mission,” he added.

Last year, Modi pledged during his Independence Day speech to send India’s first manned flight into space by 2022.

India’s space agency recently signed an agreement with Russia to train its astronauts for the mission, according to the Times of India. “I think it’s logical to go with Russia as it has been tried,” said Rakesh Sharma, according to the Times. Sharma is the first and only Indian citizen to enter space, having traveled aboard a Soviet rocket in 1984.

Sunday Olatunji
Dele Fashomi, seasoned journalist and communication teacher, is a holder of Master of Arts degree in Communication and Language Arts from the University of Ibadan in 1992/93. Earlier, he had bagged a Bachelor degree from the same university in 1984, after which he proceeded to the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, Lagos, in 1990, for a postgraduate diploma in Journalism. He had done many courses in communication, including the EU-BBC Editing Course in 2002. Mr. Fashomi combines effectively the practice, research and teaching of communication. And to date, he has published two academic works in communication: Issues in Communication Technology and Policy (2010) and Economic and Social Issues in Advertising and PR (2013). He had his first break in the Nigerian media in Concord Newspapers in 1990 and today, he has over two and half decades experience earned in several newspapers. He has been part of many start-ups, such as The Republic (1987), The Comet (1999), The Anchor 2001 - 2002; Sun Newspapers (2003); Westerner newsmagazine (2005 - 2010) as Editor; National Life (2011) as Sunday Editor, and Newswatch Newspapers (2012- 2016) as Daily Editor. Dele Fashomi is now the Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of newspaper online, which he started in July 2015. He is also into biography writing, with many books in his trail, some of which he wrote alone and one he co- authored with his mentor, Mr Dare Babarinsa, entitled:  Olabiyi Durojaiye - DARE TO BE DiFFERENT. He also guided and collaborated with Pa Olatunji Odusanya in writing his autobiography - AGAINST ALL ODDS. There are many other books in the works under his pen.