India has successfully launched its first ever moon mission on Wednesday. The Chandrayaan-I, an unmanned lunar exploration mission that includes an impactor and a lunar orbiter, was launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), which is the national space agency of India.

This successful mission has been a great ego-boost for the country. “It is a proud moment for us”, Kapil Sibal, the minister of Science and Technology said.

Some have raised questions on the country’s logic for spending $80 million in this scientific quest despite the country’s poverty. “It is not a question of whether we can afford it; it's whether we can afford to ignore it”, Dr K. Kasturirangan, ISRO’s chairperson said. He pointed out that $80 million is a comparatively low budget for this type of mission. “And the returns, in terms of the science... the technology, inspiration, stature, prospects for international cooperation... are immense”, Kasturirangan added.

The mission is believed to strengthen the country’s standing in the sector of commercial satellite launch and provide the ISRO with worthwhile experience in developing hi-tech spacecraft, more sophisticated remote navigation technology, and improved rocketry.

ISRO programmes have focused generally on the development in weather forecasting, educational broadcasts, communications, and launching satellites for resource mapping and landscape.

Chandrayaan-I takes the space programme of India to a new edge. “This is really a gear shift in a sense. Chandrayaan-I is a purely scientific, exploratory mission”, said Subhadra Menon, who authored the book chronicling the lunar mission’s history.

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