India plans to make a fresh attempt to land an unmanned mission on the moon in 2020 after a failed bid last year, the head of the country’s space programme said Wednesday.
Work is going “smoothly” on the Chandrayaan-3 mission to put a rover probe on the moon’s surface, Indian Space Research Organisation chairman K. Sivan told a press conference.
— India TV (@indiatvnews) January 1, 2020
“We are targeting the launch for this year but it may spillover to next year,” Sivan said. Indian sources said authorities had set November as a provisional target for launch.
India seeking to become only the fourth nation after Russia, the United States and China to put a mission on the moon’s surface and boost its credentials as a low-cost space power.
The country’s Chandrayaan-2 module crash-landed on the moon’s surface in September.
Sivan said the new propulsion module, lander and surface rover would cost about $35 million, with a significantly higher outlay for the launch itself
Sivan said the new propulsion module, lander and surface rover would cost about $35 million, with a significantly higher outlay for the launch itself.
He added that India had chosen four candidate astronauts to take part in the country’s first manned mission into orbit, pledged to take place by mid-2022.
The four are to start training in Russia later this month. Up to three astronauts are to take part in the mission, which will be one of the landmark projects scheduled for the 75th anniversary of India’s independence from British rule.
Read more: India moon mission fails, as PM Modi watches
Chandrayaan-2 was the most complex mission ever attempted by India’s space agency, Isro. Its chairman K Sivan – who had earlier described the final descent as “15 minutes of terror” – has since said the mission was “98% successful”, based on the findings of an official committee.
Millions of Indians watched the Vikram Moon lander’s final heart-stopping descent in the early hours of 7 September – its progress was beamed across television screens and social media accounts.
"Chandrayaan 3’s configuration will be similar to Chandrayaan 2. We have initiated this project and work is going on very smoothly on it": #ISRO chief K Sivan.
Watch LIVE: https://t.co/hMlRpgrUU6 and NDTV 24×7
— NDTV (@ndtv) January 1, 2020
But during the final stage – known as the “hovering” stage – a problem occurred. The lander was about 2.1km (1.3 miles) from the lunar surface when it lost contact with scientists, dashing hopes that India would become only the fourth country to achieve a soft landing on the Moon.
GVS News Desk with additions from news agencies.