In its second attempt to soft-land on the Moon, India has begun working on its third lunar mission, Chandrayaan-3, which is scheduled for launch in early 2021, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has announced.
“We have started working on our third lunar mission to land an unmanned spacecraft near the Moon’s South Pole. The project work has gained momentum to launch the lander and rover by early 2021,” ISRO chairman K. Sivan said at a space event in Bengaluru on Wednesday.
India’s maiden attempt to soft-land at the designated spot on the Moon had failed on September 7, 2019, when Chandrayaan-2’s Vikram spacecraft crash-landed due to a velocity glitch.
“As Chandrayaan-3 will have only a lander and rover, the lunar spacecraft will cost Rs. 610 crores, including Rs. 360 crores for the launch rocket,” Sivan said on the margins of a symposium on “Human Spaceflight and Exploration – Present Challenges and Future Trends”.
The space agency had spent Rs 960 crore on the Chandrayaan-2 mission, whose Orbiter has been circling around 100 km from the lunar surface in an elliptical motion since August 20 last year, NDTV reported.
On India’s maiden manned mission, Gaganyaan, the ISRO chief said four Indian Air Force (IAF) pilots were selected, including three crew members. They would soon visit Russia for training, he added.
“Gaganyaan will be a historic mission for the country as three Indian astronauts will fly in a space module designed and developed indigenously,” asserted Sivan, a rocket specialist.