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President, PM congratulate space scientists

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrives at Haneda Airport in Tokyo on Tuesday. PTI Photo

NEW DELHI (PTI): President Pratibha Patil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday hailed the successful launch of Chandrayaan-1 as the "first step" towards a historic effort to explore Moon and beyond.

Singh, who is on an official visit to Japan, called up G Madhavan Nair, Secretary, Department of Space and congratulated him and his team of scientists for the successful launch.

Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) warhorse rocket PSLV C-11 put Chandrayaan-1 into the Earth orbit at around 6:30 am on Wednesday.

“I congratulate all the scientists associated with this mission for the successful completion of the first step,” Singh said.

When completed, the mission will put India in the very small group of six countries which have thus far sent space missions to the Moon, he said.

“This is the beginning of a two-week long effort in which our scientists will now manoeuvre the spacecraft into expanding orbits around the Earth before finally shifting it to an orbit around the Moon,” he said.

In a message from Guwahati, President Pratibha Patil said it was a "landmark day" which would inspire the Indian space scientists for sending manned missions in the future. Patil said India should aim at sending Indian astronauts to space in an Indian space capsule.

Senior BJP leader L K Advani also hailed the efforts of Indian space scientists. “I feel that the successful launch of Chandrayaan-1 is a historic moment for India. I am happy to know about it,” he said. “It is a matter of time...We will send Indian astronauts to Moon,” Advani said.

The Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha noted that the then NDA Government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee had in 2003 sanctioned the project.

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