After being delayed four times since March 2018, India's second lunar mission Chandrayaan-2, having three modules — Orbiter, Lander (Vikram) and Rover (Pragyan), was unveiled on Wednesday. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will launch Chandrayaan 2 on July 15 early morning at 2:51 AM.
The space agency said that Chandrayaan-2 cost Rs 603 crore and the GSLV Mark 3 cost Rs 375 crore. Over 500 industries contributed in the expenditure of the launch vehicle and 120 industries contributed for the spacecraft Chandrayaan-2.
The launch, as
the ISRO had said in May, is scheduled between July 9 and 16 from Satish Dhawan Space Center, Sriharikota. It is likely to take 35 to 45 days to reach the moon after the launch.
The 3,800-kg spacecraft includes an orbiter which will circle the moon at 100 km; Vikram, which is a five-legged lander, that is designed to descend on the moon; and a robotic rover, Pragyan, that will explore the lunar terrain around it. The rover weighs 27 kg and is one meter in length while the lander weighs 1.4 tonnes and is 3.5 metre tall and the orbiter weighs 2.3 tonnes.
ISRO, in a mission update earlier, had said the three modules will carry a total of 13 + 1 payloads. The + 1 payload on the spacecraft is a passive payload of NASA. However, no objectives of the payloads were specified by the space agency.
The orbiter alone will have eight payloads, the lander will carry four while the rover will be with two.
September 6 has been set as the date for the soft-land launch for its landing craft at the lunar south pole — a region where no agency has got to so far. ISRO said soft-landing will be the most challenging part of the mission.
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.
The rover is housed inside the lander. The integrated module will reach the moon orbit using orbiter propulsion module after its launch into earth-bound orbit by GSLV MK-III.
The objective of the mission is primarily an exploration one — use and test various new technologies and conduct new experiments. It is also to demonstrate the ability to soft-land on the lunar surface and operate a robotic rover on the surface.
Scientific goals of Chandrayaan include the study of lunar topography, mineralogy, elemental abundance, the lunar exosphere, and signatures of hydroxyl and water ice.
Once landed, the rover will move on the lunar surface and will perform on-site chemical analysis. The data will be relayed to earth through the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter, which will piggyback on the same launch.
Chandrayaan-2 is a follow-up launch of Chandrayaan-1. In 2007, ISRO has signed a deal with Russia's space agency, Roskosmos, to launch the mission in 2013. However, Russia later pulled out of the agreement after the failure of their December 2011 launch.
(This story has been updated with the latest development.)