After nine years of hard work, the countdown for Chandrayaan-1 – India’s first unmanned moon mission – has begun at the Sriharikota space station. The launch is scheduled for early Wednesday morning.

Chandrayaan-1 will orbit the moon for about two years, mapping the topography and mineral content of the lunar soil. It will take off from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh, about 80 km from Chennai, and off the Bay of Bengal.

The Chandrayaan-1 launch would be around 0620 hrs IST on October 22, weather conditions permitting.

Ninety-nine per cent of the integration and testing is complete and the countdown has begun for India’s historic tryst with the moon.The success of Chandrayaan-1 will catapult India among the top five space exploring countries of the world.

Chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Dr G Madhavan Nair said, “It has been a dream of Indian scientists to send satellites around the moon and collect data about its surface features, minerals and so on.”

Experts said that just getting the satellite right isn’t enough. A huge ground network is needed to monitor and control it. So 30 kilometres outside Bangalore, ISRO built this tracking station.

Director of ISRO Satellite Centre, TK Alex said, “We have to make sure that the trajectory is correct. Moon must be exactly where we decided it should be when we designed the satellite.”

While Indians designed and built everything on this mission – they weren’t averse to letting others hitch a ride. There are 11 different machines on board this mission – five from India, four from Europe and two from NASA.

On Wednesday morning, nine years of hard work will be put to the test. If successful, the Chandrayaan-1 mission will be a clear statement that sky is not the limit for India anymore.