ISRO on 1 January 2020 announced that the launch of country's third lunar mission, Chandrayaan-3 may happen next year and said four from the Indian Air Force have been selected for the ambitious Gaganyaan programme, whose astronaut training would commence soon in Russia. The announcement comes a day after Union Minister Jitendra Singh said India will launch Chandrayaan-3 in 2020. ISRO chairman K Sivan said work related to the third lunar mission was going on smoothly. It will have a lander, rover and a propulsion module like its predecessor.
- Work on both Chandrayaan-3 and Gaganyaan, the country's maiden manned space mission, was going on simultaneously.
- Noting that Chandrayaan-2 orbiter's mission life was seven years, he said it would be used for the third lunar mission as well.
- Chandrayaan-2 mission was India's first attempt to land on the lunar surface. The ISRO had planned the landing on the South Pole of the lunar surface. However, the lander Vikram hard-landed.
- India has signed agreements with Russia and France for cooperation on the Gaganyaan mission.
- The ambitious Gaganyaan mission was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his Independence Day speech in 2018.
- The space agency has sought an allocation of Rs 14,000 crore from the Centre in the budget for 2020-21.
- The missions that were planned in 2019 and could not be completed would be finished by March this year.
Chandrayaan-3 mission cost
- As per ISRO, the total cost of Chandrayaan-3 mission will be over Rs 600 crores. In comparison, the total cost of the Chandrayaan-2 mission was Rs 960 crores.
- Chandrayaan-3 mission will cost Rs 250 crores for the lander, rover, and propulsion module, whereas the launch of the mission will cost another Rs 365 crores. It makes the total cost of mission equal to Rs 615 crores.
Focus areas for ISRO
- ISRO chairman recalled the achievements of ISRO in 2019 and outlined the focus areas for the space agency.
- In 2019, our strategy mainly was the expansion program. We wanted to expand ISRO horizontally.
- The second strategy adopted in 2019 was the capacity building on an outreach program. The third one is the reduction of the physical work in ISRO.
- Sivan also announced that the land acquisition for a second spaceport has been initiated. The new port will be in Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu.
There’s also Gaganyaan
- The year 2020 is also going to be the year of Gaganyaan– India’s manned lunar mission.
- ISRO is working parallelly on Gaganyaan project along with the Chandrayaan-3.
- The space agency has already constituted an advisory committee for the Gaganyaan. ISRO chairman informed that they have identified four astronauts and their training will commence in Russia from the third week of January in 2020.
What happened to Chandrayaan-2
- India’s dream of landing a spacecraft on the moon remained unfulfilled as the Vikram lander onboard the Chandrayaan-2 mission failed to perform a soft-landing on the Moon.
- The landing of Vikram to be in a plain about 600 km from the south pole of the Moon, and would have made India, the fourth nation in the world to achieve a successful soft-landing on the lunar surface.
- The US space agency NASA confirmed in December, that the debris had been located, a discovery which it credited to Chennai-based techie Shanmuga Subramanian.
- However, as per ISRO, the mission managed to complete 90-95 per cent of its objectives. Sivan said that even though India could not land a spacecraft on the lunar surface, the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter is still functioning and “it is going to function for the next seven years to produce science data.