Space programme seeks to bounce back after 2019 project ended with a crash landing on the lunar surface
India plans to make a fresh attempt at an unmanned mission on the moon this year, the head of the country’s space programme has said, after a 2019 bid ended in a crash landing.
Work was going “smoothly” on the Chandrayaan-3 mission to put a rover probe on the moon’s surface, Indian Space Research Organisation chairman K Sivan said. “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.
Blasting off in July last year, India had hoped with its Chandrayaan-2 (“moon vehicle 2”) mission to become just the fourth country after the US, Russia and regional rival China to make a successful moon landing, and the first on the lunar south pole.
The Chandrayaan-2 module crash-landed on the moon’s surface in September.
Sivan said building the new propulsion module, lander and surface rover would cost about $35m, 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, 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.