Spaceflight Insider

India’s Chandrayaan-2 Moon mission slips to 2019

A model of Chandrayaan-2’s rover undergoing tests.

A model of Chandrayaan-2’s rover undergoing tests. Photo Credit: ISRO

Chandrayaan-2, India’s second mission to the Moon has, according to Indian media outlets, been delayed again. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is now targeting a January 2019 launch date.

As part of the Chandrayaan-2 mission, ISRO is planning to send an orbiter, a lander, and a six-wheeled 44-pound (20-kilogram) rover to the lunar surface. The mission’s launch was initially targeted for April 2018 but was postponed to October 2018. Now, the new reports from India are saying that the launch will not be conducted until the year’s end.

According to NDTV, M. Annadurai, the Director of ISRO’s U. R. Rao Satellite Centre (URSC) confirmed that Chandrayaan-2’s flight had slipped to 2019. He added that the launch is now planned for January, while the lunar landing should take place in February.

However, some Indian media like The Hindu suggested that the January 2019 launch date is uncertain, citing an anonymous source from the industry. SpaceFlight Insider wishes to note that anonymous sources are not credible sources and until official word is given – can’t vouch for this information. This unnamed official said that the next launch window for the mission will likely be in January, adding how much crucial for ISRO is Chandrayaan-2.

“We don’t want to take any risk,” he noted, referring apparently to the latest setbacks the ISRO has suffered – the PSLV-C39 launch failure in August of 2017 and the loss of communications with the GSAT-6A satellite in April 2018.

This decision made by the ISRO to reschedule the launch seems to confirm that India needs more time to conduct additional tests of the orbiter, lander and rover in order to minimize the risk of potential failure.

ISRO plans to launch the mission from the Second Launch Pad of the Satish Dhawan Space Centre atop a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV). Annadurai revealed that the Mk III variant of this rocket will be employed for this mission, contrary to previous media reports suggesting that the GSLV would fly in the Mk II configuration.

Chandrayaan-2’s main goal is to demonstrate the nation’s soft-landing capability. If successful, it will make India the fourth nation to land a spacecraft of the Moon after the US, Soviet Union and China. The mission is also scheduled to collect scientific data on lunar topography, mineralogy, the abundance of certain elements, aspects regarding the lunar exosphere, and signatures of hydroxyl and water ice.

Chandrayaan-2’s orbiter is slated to be inserted into a 62-mile (100-kilometer) lunar orbit from where it would release the lander for a soft landing on the Moon’s surface. The lander would then deploy the rover which would move around near the landing site in a semi-autonomous mode for about two weeks. During this time it would observe the lunar surface as well as analyze the lunar soil.

India’s first mission to the Moon, Chandrayaan-1, operated from lunar orbit between October of 2008 and August 2009. The goal of that mission was to study the chemical, mineralogical, and photo-geologic makeup of the Moon.

 

 

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Tomasz Nowakowski is the owner of Astro Watch, one of the premier astronomy and science-related blogs on the internet. Nowakowski reached out to SpaceFlight Insider in an effort to have the two space-related websites collaborate. Nowakowski's generous offer was gratefully received with the two organizations now working to better relay important developments as they pertain to space exploration.

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