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ISRO to re-attempt moon landing next year with Chandrayaan-3

BENGALURU: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will launch Chandrayaan-3 in 2021 to achieve a successful landing near the Moon’s south pole to record a first among space-faring nations. ISRO had attempted the same feat in the Chandrayaan-2 mission, which failed to achieve a safe landing with the lander Vikram, carrying a rover Pragyan in its belly, crashing close to the designated landing site near the lunar south pole. ISRO Chairman K Sivan on Wednesday said that ISRO is developing exact replicas of lander Vikram and rover Pragyan for Chandrayaan-3, at a cost of Rs 250 crore, and which would be carried by a ‘propulsion module’.

This is the only change in the Chandrayaan- 3 mission from its predecessor, in which the orbiter carried lander Vikram in its belly with the rover inside the latter. Sivan said that Chandrayaan-3 will not require an orbiter as the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter is already successfully in the lunar orbit at an altitude of 100 km. The orbiter, which was launched with an initial mission life of two years, was extended to seven years. “Once the Chandrayaan-3 lander successfully lands and deploys its rover on the lunar surface close to the south pole, it will establish a data link with Chandrayaan- 2 orbiter, which in turn will relay the data obtained by the lander and rover on the lunar surface to the earth stations,” Sivan said, adding that the launch cost for the mission will be another Rs 365 crore.

“It will take us anywhere between 14 to 16 months to get the mission ready, so we will launch it in 2021,” he said, although initial reports indicated a scheduled launch for Chandrayaan-3 in November 2020. He, however, iterated that the Chandrayaan- 3 mission and India’s first manned space mission Gaganyaan will, run simultaneously and neither would affect the other’s schedules to cause any mission delays.

Lander Vikram crashed due to velocity

variation He explained that Chandrayaan-2’s lander Vikram’s crash was found to be due to increased velocity reduction than what was planned during the rough braking phase, which affected the landing speed of the lander in the next landing phase, in turn causing it to veer off its landing course and crashing on the lunar surface. ISRO scientists are currently engaged in corrections in the automated landing parameters of the Chandrayaan-3 lander to prevent another crash.

The scientists are also dabbling with changing the combinations of thrusters to be used during the landing phases to keep the lander steady during its descent after being released by the propulsion module. Sivan added that the names of the lander and rover of Chandrayaan-3 are yet to be decided. When asked what scientific feat is expected to be achieved by the Chandrayaan- 2 orbiter on the lines of Chandrayaan- 1 discovering water molecules for the first time on Moon, Sivan said that scientific data received from the orbiter was still being analysed by scientists, therefore it was too early to speak of any great scientific feat by Chandrayaan-2 orbiter as yet.