Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday said, "We must continually aim at the stars if we are to succeed in meeting our ambitious national goals on the ground. One such grand programme is our Moon mission: Chandrayaan-I."
Speaking after unveiling a bust of former Indian Space Research Organisation chairman Prof Satish Dhawan at the Space Centre at Sriharikota, Dr Singh exhorted the scientists to take India to the forefront in the global space arena.
He asked them to gear up efforts to achieve low-cost access to space through innovative space transportation systems. At the same time, while providing these services, they should not compromise in the quest for excellence and quality, he told them.
"The future evolution of nations and economies will be determined not only by possession of technology, but also in their effective application to meet fundamental development needs of the people," he observed.
Paying rich tributes to Prof Dhawan's visionary leadership, which helped transform an otherwise isolated island-Sriharikota of the Andhra Pradesh coast into India's proud space port, he said, "This Indian window to space now has the capacity to launch spacecraft into orbit around the Earth, and will soon take us to the moon. This we hope will be a precursor to exploring other planets as well."
Dr Singh said he was looking forward to the successful launch of the unmanned Moon-shot from this centre, using Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle.
"Chandrayaan-I will enable our scientific community to embark on more ambitious plans of exploring the universe. The implementation of this programme will add to the international profile of our space community."
"Not only Chandrayaan, but our other programmes are now eliciting positive responses from international partners," he observed and reiterated India's commitment to international cooperation in the scientific exploration of outer space for the benefit of humankind.
Unveiling an ambitious plan for Satish Dhawan Space Centre to meet the challenges of the future, he said that a world-class propellant plant would be set up to meet the demands of the next generation launch vehicle, GSLV-Mk III. "A number of other satellites to test and integrate a new generation of satellites are also on the anvil," he added.
Recalling the vision of Dr Vikram Sarabhai, the founding father of the Indian space programme, and Prof Satish Dhawan, Dr Singh also recalled the contributions of "other titans of our space programme, namely, President A P J Abdul Kalam, Prof U R Rao, Prof M G K Menon, Prof Pant, Prof Narasimhan, Prof K Kasturirangan and many others."
Guided by these towering figures, ISRO's committed efforts had taken India to the horizon and beyond in space technology, and its diverse applications. "Some of these towering figures are present here today. I salute them on behalf of our nation for the contribution that they have made to the development of India's capacities in the field of space. I am particularly happy that Mrs. Dhawan is here alongwith members of her family," he said.