Former ISRO chairman G Madhavan Nair on Wednesday claimed that the Chandrayaan-2 mission could have been carried out long ago but for the "political decision" of then UPA government to push the "Mangalyaan" venture with an eye on the 2014 Lok Sabha election.
The architect of Chandrayaan-1, India's first unmanned mission to the moon launched on October 22, 2008, served as the chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the secretary in the Department of Space from 2003 to 2009.
He had said in August, 2009 that Chandrayaan-2 was slated for launch towards the end of 2012.
In October last year, he joined the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
On Wednesday, Nair alleged that the UPA government wanted to show "some major event" (the Mangalyaan Mars orbiter mission) before the 2014 election. "With that objective, they (UPA government) went ahead (with the Mangalyaan mission)," he said.
Though the Mangalyaan launch took place during the UPA regime (November, 2013), the spacecraft reached the Mars orbit during the Narendra Modi government (September 2014), Nair noted.
"So, it did not serve the purpose (of the then UPA regime). More of a political thing (to take up the Mars mission, ahead of Chandrayaan-2) than technical," he said.
"Almost half the work (for Chandrayaan-2) was done earlier, but all those things were diverted for the Mars mission. So, we (ISRO) had to start from the scratch. Only after this (Modi) regime came (in 2014), they reinstated the old programme (Chandrayaan-2)," Nair told PTI.
He praised the ISRO, saying the space agency thereafter took "minimum time" to ready the mission, now due for launch next month.
"It is a complex mission. Lot of things had to be developed, tested and put into operation.
"To have the lander safely touch down on the surface of the moon is the real challenging job (of the Chandrayaan-2 mission)," Nair said.
India's second mission to the moon, Chandrayaan-2, would be launched on July 15, ISRO Chairman K Sivan announced on Wednesday.
The launch will take place at 2.51 am on board the GSLV MK-III vehicle from the spaceport of Sriharikota.
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