India’s Moon Mission “Chandrayaan-2” On Track Jan 2019 Launch: ISRO

India’s Moon Mission, the Second Moon Vehicle, Chandrayaan-2, developed by Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), is all set for its scheduled launch in January 2019. Chandrayaan-2 includes a lunar orbiter, rover, and a lander is country’s second lunar exploratory mission after the very famous Chandrayaan-1. 

According to the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), Chandrayaan 2 will be launched to the Moon by GSLV Mk II (Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle). The second moon vehicle is expected to perform a chemical analysis on the lunar surface, the data of which will be sent back to the Earth through the Chandrayaan 2 orbiter.

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India’s Moon Mission – The Chandrayaan 2 project was initially a joint project between the Indian and Russian space agencies – ISRO and Roscosmos. The agreement for the same was signed between the representatives of the two agencies on November 12, 2007, giving the key responsibility for the rover and the orbiter to ISRO, and that of the lander to Roscosmos.

The green signal for the project was given by the Indian government on September 18, 2008, while the design for the spacecraft was completed in August 2009. However, in January 2013, Russia expressed its inability to develop the lander within the scheduled time thereby postponing the mission to 2016. In 2015, Russia continued to cite its inability in providing the lander, following which India decided to take up the project independently.

Chandrayaan 2 – The Orbiter, Lander & Rover Specifications

With an estimated cost of USD 91 million, the Chandrayaan 2 will take off from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota, on the GSLV Mk II with a lift-off mass of roughly 3,250 kg. The orbiter of the Chandrayaan 2 will carry five instruments including three new and two from the Chandrayaan 1 mission. It is expected to orbit the Moon at 100 km while the landing site will be observed for its separation from the lander by the Orbiter High-Resolution Camera (OHRC). The lander of the Chandrayaan 2 will, on the other hand, will be different from that of the first mission which had impacted the surface of the moon.

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The lander of the second mission has been designed for soft landing prior to the deployment of the rover. The technologies to be used for the same include a high-resolution camera, hazard avoidance camera, accelerometer, navigation camera, velocity meter, 800N throttleable liquid main engine, and altitude thrusters. About 20 kg in mass, the rover in the mission will be moveable on the lunar surface by wheels, where it will be performing the on-site chemical analysis. The data of the same will be transmitted back to the Earth by the orbiter.

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Just like the lander, the rover has been designed and developed by ISRO following the failure of the Russian agency in contributing to the mission as per the agreement. Three subsystems for the rover’s mobility are being developed by IIT Kanpur, including a Kinematic traction control, stereoscopic camera-based 3D vision, and control and motor dynamics.

India’s Moon Mission – Chandrayaan 2 on Schedule: Confirms ISRO

The Indian space research agency further added that the flight models of the Chandrayaan 2 are undergoing tests. However, Chairman A S Kiran Kumar said it is yet to be decided whether the mission, the satellite for which is in preparation at the ISRO Satellite Centre, will be in March or not. Kumar said the lander with the rover will separate from the orbiter as the satellite reaches the lunar orbit, following which the lander will land on the moon at a pre-decided site.

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S Somnath, the Director of ISRO’s LPSC at Mahendragiri, Tamil Nadu, said the team was conducting tests to ensure the ability of the lander to do a soft landing. He added that the team at Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC) is making attempts to complete the task in a short span of time.

Future Missions Of ISRO Post Chandrayaan 2

ISRO Chairman A S Kiran Kumar also spoke on the possibility of the Indian space agency conducting a manned space mission in the future. He said the possibility has always been there but the same has to be decided by the government of India by providing resources for the same. Kumar further spoke on the next mission by ISRO in 2018 which would be the launch of a communication satellite on GSLV Mk II, the integration of which has been completed.

Following the communications satellite, ISRO will also launch Mk III and PSLV carrying the navigation satellite IRNSS 1. Set for retirement this month, Kumar said the space agency is also working on a number of launches set for almost one launch per month, with the launch of three GSLV category and 9 PSLV category by the end of this year.

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Kumar also spoke on the unsuccessful launch of IRNSS 1H last year saying that a team had been formed to identify the cause of failure. He said the key to success was to learn the deficiencies and make each system more robust than the last one. India’s Moon Mission – Chandrayaan 2 is expected to be yet another highly successful space mission by India, adding to the pride and glory of the nation.