NEW DELHI – When a rocket blows from an island in the Bay of Bengal in the coming days, it will carry not only a mountaineer but a nation's growing ambitions in space.
On Monday, India will launch its most complex space odyssey to date with the launch of its second moon mission.
Chandrayaan-2, whose launch is set to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, will attempt to soften the moon's rude southern pole region in the first week of September. The region is crucial, says researchers, as there is the possibility of the presence of water and craters containing fossil records of the early solar system.
Chaitanya Giri, a scholar of space and ocean study at Gateway House, a thought tank in Mumbai, said it would be the first landing of any spacecraft on the lunar south pole.
The mission consists of a landman named Vikram, after the first head of India's space organization and a rover called Pragyan, meaning "wisdom" in Sanskrit.
If successful, the mission will increase understanding of the moon and "benefit India and humanity as a whole", according to the Indian Space Research Organization or ISRO. Its manager, K. Sivan, told NDTV news that Vikram's 1
The country's first deep space mission, Chandrayaan-1, was launched in 2008 was instrumental in the discovery of water on the lunar surface. The ISRO chairman refused to comment further and cited a "hectic schedule" before the launch.
Although India's space program began already in the 1960s, it has been re-emerged under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The nationalist leader swept to re-election in May after a campaign focusing on security and patriotic rhetoric. Modi has promoted the space program as a symbol of the country's rising character internationally and a company for its defense capabilities.
The moon mission is not the only thing on the horizon. In 2022, the Indian space authority plans to send a manned mission to Mars. In 2014, it successfully sent an unmanned orbiter to Red Planet.
"India has begun to make decisions that will make the country a great space force," wrote Mark Whittington, author of two space exploration studies. To be a major player on the world stage, India had realized that it needed a "powerful space program," he said.
During his election campaign in March, Modi made a sudden television address to the country to reveal that India had become the fourth country to shoot down a low-orbit satellite with a missile – an advanced defense capability matched only by the United States, China and Russia.
Come on the heels of one of the worst cross-border conflicts with archrival Pakistan in recent times, the missile test by security analysts was seen as a significant political shift for New Delhi, which has tried to portray itself as a responsible international actor.
However, the test was dissatisfied with NASA, whose administrator called it "unacceptable", considering that debris could damage the international space station.
The critics of India's space struggles question whether a developing country can afford to pay millions on space exploration. Vikram Sarabhai, who is considered the father of the country's space program, has said that "to play a meaningful role nationally and in public", India must apply "advanced technology to the real problems of man and society".  Others have highlighted the cost-effectiveness of India's space exploration compared to the US.
India's first Mars satellite costs less than the space movie budget "Gravity". At $ 141 million, the cost of Current Monthly missions is far less than $ 25 billion from the US on the Apollo program. Both Mars and Moon missions combined amount to less than $ 408 million India spent a gigantic statue of a leader of the Freedom newspaper last year. In a famous picture from 1981, India released its first communications satellite, APPLE, on a bulk car.
India has increased its budget spending on space by 11 percent this year to $ 1.8 billion, though far below what NASA or China is spending.
Experts say India's focus on its space program reflects the young people's ambitions. Giri says that the scientific innovation, the invention of new technology and the development of a highly qualified workforce could help India become a $ 5 billion economy in 2024, a goal the Modi government has said it will try to achieve.