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India's Chandrayaan-2 Moon Mission Planned for 2018

Accepted submission by takyon at 2017-10-24 18:49:52
Science

India plans to put another orbiter around the Moon and land a rover [nature.com] for just $93 million (including launch costs):

In a large shed near the headquarters of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in Bangalore, a six-wheeled rover rumbles over dark grey rubble in a landscape designed to mimic the Moon's rocky surface. This test and others scheduled for the next few weeks are crucial steps in India's quest to launch a second mission to the Moon next March.

The country's much anticipated Chandrayaan-2 comes almost a decade after India began its first journey to the Moon, in 2008. "It is logically an extension of the Chandrayaan-1 mission," says Mylswamy Annadurai, director of the project at ISRO. The spacecraft comprises an orbiter that will travel around the Moon, a lander that will touch down in a as-yet undecided location near the Moon's south pole and a rover.

India's maiden Moon trip was a significant achievement for its space programme, but ended prematurely when ISRO lost contact with the orbiter ten months into the planned two-year mission. However, an instrument on a probe that reached the Moon's surface did gather enough data for scientists to confirm the presence of traces of water.

[...] ISRO plans to execute its mission on shoestring budget of just 6.03 billion rupees (US$93 million), including the cost of the rocket and launch. Chandrayaan-2 will be carried into space on one of the agency's three-stage rockets, a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark II, taking off from a spaceport on the island of Sriharikota in the Bay of Bengal. "A nice part of the Indian space programme is that they manage to do things so cheaply," says ANU astrobiologist Charles Lineweaver. "If it succeeds, maybe everyone else will see that their mission didn't really need that extra bell or whistle."

The launch is scheduled for the first quarter of 2018.

Chandrayaan program [wikipedia.org].

Previously: Moon Wetter Than Previously Thought [soylentnews.org]


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