In a significant development, the Indian Space Research Organisation is expected to launch the Chandrayaan-2 mission, which will be India’s second sojourn to the moon, later this year.
The Chandrayaan-2 mission will cost less than the 2014 Hollywood sci-fi blockbuster Interstellar, reported Times of India. ISRO’s second mission to the moon will cost Rs 800 crore, compared to the Rs 1,062 crore ($165 million) production budget for the Hollywood flick.
“Simplifying the system, miniaturising the complex big system, strict quality control and maximising output from a product make our space missions frugal and cost-effective. We keep strict vigil on each and every stage of development of a spacecraft or a rocket and, therefore, we are able to avoid wastage of products, which helps us minimise the mission cost,” said ISRO chief K Sivan to the publication.
Of real significance is the fact that it will be the first-ever mission to soft-land on the moon’s south pole. “We have identified two locations and will be choosing one. No other moon mission has landed in this area,” said former ISRO chief AS Kiran Kumar, who retired last month, to the Times of India.
Reports indicate that the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark II vehicle will carry the 3,300 kg payload (satellite). For the first Chandrayaan mission, the space research body had used the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).
The team at ISRO is currently conducting simulations for its soft landing near the south pole of the moon at its Liquid Propulsion System Centre in Mahendragiri, Tamil Nadu.
With ISRO also preparing the hardware for this journey, the launch is expected to take place sometime in April 2018 or even later in the year.
“After reaching the moon’s orbit, the lander will get detached from the orbiter and do a soft-landing near the south pole of the moon. The 6-wheeled rover fixed within the lander will get detached and move on the lunar surface. The rover has been designed in such a way that it will have the power to spend a lunar day (or 14 Earth days) on the moon’s surface and walk up to 150-200 metres. It will do several experiments and on-site chemical analysis of the surface,” said ISRO chairman Dr JK Sivan to the Times of India, detailing the contours of the operation.
The ISRO chairman went on to add that following this, the rover will transfer the necessary data and images back to Earth within 15 minutes.
Last month, ISRO said that it would further reduce the cost of its satellites and launch vehicles.
These attempts at reducing costs and allowing them to carry heavier payloads are being explored throughthe use of miniaturised avionics, advanced electronics and electronic propulsion system, among other mechanisms.