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ISRO yet to pick up rover built by IIT-K

Press Trust of India  |  Kanpur 

ISRO had given a project to to develop a rover to be launched with Chandrayaan-II, which the university's scientists completed in 2010, but the space agency was yet to pick it up and make part payment to the institute, according to its professor.

When contacted, an Indian Space Research Organisation official said in that they will take some time to respond.

"In 2009, ISRO's Space Centre in Thiruvananthapuram had given a project to Kanpur's mechanical engineering and electrical engineering departments to build a rover that would be launched along with Chandrayaan-II," Prof K S Venkatesh of Kanpur's electrical engineering department said.

"ISRO had promised to give us Rs 7.5 lakh for the project, of which Rs 3.75 lakh was paid up front," he said.

The IIT-K professor said scientists at the institute had completed building the rover, weighing 100 kgs, in October 2010, after which it was "gathering dust" in a lab in the institute.

"Repeated phone calls and letters to ISRO failed to yield any result. Every time, ISRO scientists would assure us that they are coming soon to collect the rover, but till now no one has come," he said.

The professor said building the rover had cost much more than Rs 7.5 lakh, which the institute had paid, and that ISRO should at least pay the remaining amount due to IIT-K.

When asked about the possible reasons for ISRO not accepting the rover, Venkatesh said Chandrayaan-II was set to be launched in 2017, which could be why ISRO was not showing any haste in acquiring it.

The professor said his colleagues at the institute had realised that the project to build the rover, which would pick up samples from the Moon's surface and bring them back to Earth, would cost much more than Rs 7.5 lakh and had initially refused to take it up.

"However, the then IIT-K Director Sanjay Govind Dhande had insisted that the project would get the institute international fame and that IIT-K would pitch in with the money," he said.

According to him, IIT-K spent Rs 29 lakh on the project.

He said on completion of the project in October 2010, the team had contacted ISRO scientists by phone and letters, informing them that the rover was ready and they could come to inspect it. However, no one has come to claim the rover yet, he said.

First Published: Tue, January 14 2014. 19:17 IST