India aims to launch its second mission to the moon, Chandrayaan-II, in April, the Centre said on Friday. The mission will carry an orbiter, a lander and a rover, and will land on the moon’s south pole and “startle the whole world”, the government claimed.
Chandrayaan-II will be the first inter-planetary mission by Indian Space Research Organisation to land a rover on any celestial body, PTI reported. The rover costs Rs 800 crore, ISRO Chairman K Sivan said.
“It was under [the] Chandrayaan-I mission that ISRO spotted water on the moon,” Minister of State for Atomic Energy and Space Jitendra Singh said. “Chandrayaan-II is a further extension of the project and it is as good as landing a man on the moon.”
Chandrayaan-II has scientific capabilities that can throw up data that “may open up possibilities of future habitation of the moon”, Singh told NDTV. The unmanned mission packs in “more power than the Apollo missions by NASA [National Aeronautics and Space Administration]”, he said.
If the mission fails to launch in April because of unsuitable weather, it can still be launched before October, Sivan said. He said the moon’s south pole is a “very tricky area” with rocks formed a million years ago, and landing the mission there could “help us understand the origin of the universe”. Also, other missions had not explored this part of the moon, he said.
India launched its first lunar mission, Chandrayaan-1, successfully in October 2008, and achieved many of its objectives before losing communication in August 2009. However, the United States’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration found it still orbiting the moon in March 2017.