BBC News
Monday, January 6, 2003, 19:54 GMT




The Indian Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, says Indian scientists should work towards sending a man on the moon.

He told an educational conference in Mumbai (Bombay): "Our scientists are now talking of going to the moon."

Mr Vajpayee said the country had made significant progress in science and technology and India's scientific development should be strong enough to realise its dream of sending a man on the moon.

India and China are headed for their own space race after China, on Sunday, safely landed an unmanned craft after almost a week in orbit.


It was China's fourth rehearsal for a manned space mission -- planned for later this year -- to make it the third nation to blast a human into orbit.

India's national research space agency earlier said it has plans to launch a space mission to the moon by 2007 but ruled out sending an astronaut on the maiden voyage.

The United States and the former Soviet Union are the only two countries to have independently sent people into space.

In September 2002, India successfully launched its first weather satellite which it hopes will help the country to predict cyclones and storms more accurately.

Collecting data

The 1,000 kg satellite, known as Metsat, was launched from the Sriharikota launch pad near Madras by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

Metsat was carried aboard India's Polar Satellite Launching Vehicle (PSLV) and will collect data about wind speed, air moisture and temperatures.

It was widely seen as a demonstration of India's hopes to emerge as a major player in the lucrative satellite launching global market.

In 2001 it successfully tested its first geostationary launch vehicle, is capable of launching bigger satellites into deep orbit.


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