India approved its third lunar mission months after it failed to land on the moon successfully, its space agency said Wednesday, the latest effort in its aspirations to become a low-cost space force. According to an official telecast, the Chandrayaan-3 mission will have a lander and a rover, but not an orbiter, Chairman K. Sivan of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) told reporters at its headquarters in Bengaluru.
In September, the Chandrayaan-2 mission successfully deployed a lunar orbiter that relays scientific data back to earth but after a “hard” landing, was unable to place a rover on the lunar surface.
The mission was aimed at landing on the moon’s southern pole, where no other lunar mission had ever gone before. As craters in the region are largely unaffected by the sun’s high temperatures, the region is believed to contain water. ISRO hoped to confirm the presence of ice-shaped water that was first observed on its mission in 2008. Like the previous mission, Sivan said, Chandrayaan-3 will have a “similar configuration.”
Only the U.S., Russia, and China landed on the moon. The Chang’e-4 probe from Beijing touched down on the far side of the moon last year, while Israel made an unsuccessful attempt in April 2019 to land on the moon its Beresheet spacecraft.
Lunar Mission Likely to Begin in 2020
India’s third lunar mission is likely to begin in 2020, costing less than its previous mission, the PTI news agency reported on Tuesday, citing Jitendra Singh, the Space Department’s junior minister.
Sivan also said that ISRO is making “good progress” for its late 2021 human space-flight mission. He adds that four astronauts selects for training for later this month. The Gaganyaan project will cost less than Rs. 10,000 crores, the government said in 2018.
India has built a reputation for pioneering affordable launches of satellites and space missions. His unmanned Mars mission cost just $74 million in 2014, less than the Hollywood space film Gravity’s budget.
Sivan also declared that ISRO had started the process of acquiring land. This is for a second spaceport in Tamil Nadu’s port town of Thoothukudi.