Bengaluru: India’s much-awaited second moon mission — Chandrayaan-2 — is likely to be launched between 9 July and 16 July, ISRO announced Wednesday. The landing of the spacecraft on the lunar surface is expected by 6 September.
The Rs 800-crore mission will be launched on the new and powerful GSLV-Mk-III, and will consist of three modules — an orbiter, a lander (Vikram), and a rover (Pragyan) that will move on the surface.
The mission has been in the making for several years now and was plagued by a series of problems, causing much delay for the launch. Just last month, the Vikram lander failed a test when its legs fractured, causing the mission to be pushed back further.
How will the mission function?
While the orbiter of the spacecraft will go around the moon, the Vikram lander will land on the lunar surface and remain stationed as a base. The Pragyan rover, which will be deployed from the lander, will move on the lunar surface.
“The orbiter and lander modules will be interfaced mechanically and stacked together as an integrated module and accommodated inside the GSLV MK-III launch vehicle,” said the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in a statement. “The rover is housed inside the lander,” it added.
There are a total of 12 confirmed scientific payloads on the mission. These payloads will analyse the surface of the moon, perform mineral studies, monitor quakes on the moon, study the lunar exosphere and send photographs back to the earth, among other activities. All the payloads are Indian except for one American payload given by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
The landing site on the moon, which is yet unnamed, is close to the South Pole in the vicinity of the impactor from Chandrayaan-1 that crashed on the surface and was able to contribute to the discovery of water on the moon.
Just like Chandrayaan-1 and Mars Orbiter Mission, the Chandrayaan-2 will also perform orbit raising manoeuvres around the Earth six times to gain the required height and speed to break away from the Earth’s gravity.
This six-step process is a staple procedure followed by the ISRO with the objective of reducing cost of fuel and launching with a home-grown rocket that is as of now incapable of flying directly to the moon, like Saturn V rocket did for the Apollo missions.
While the Saturn V sent the Apollo 11 carrying Neil Armstrong to the moon in just over a week, Chandrayaan-2 will take nearly two months to undertake the same journey.
On successful landing, India will become the fourth country after the US, Russia, and China to achieve a soft landing on the moon.