The launch date of Chandrayaan-2 Mission by ISRO, with a lunar rover, has been postponed again with a possible take off in 2019. The Chandrayan-2 mission was earlier slated for October 2018, but the launch date has been rescheduled due of technical glitches. This delay may now give Israel an opportunity to edge past India with its moon landing and become only the forth nations to land a rover on the moon.
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Israel via a non-profit organisation called SpaceIL attempts to launch its moon probe, Sparrow, in December this year. The Israel mission will be utilising the American Falcon-9 rocket expecting to soft land on the moon on February 13, 2019. It is now an interesting scenario as to who clutches the fourth spot of the rover landing on the moon, India or Israel.
On the second visit to the moon, India expects to soft-land near the south pole of the moon and explore the lunar surface with a tiny six-wheeled moon rover and hold vital experiments.
Dr M Annadurai, Director of U.R Rao Satellite Centre said that the launch date for Chandryaan-2 “is slipping to 2019” from the originally planned launch in October this year. Dr Annadurai said that India’s moon mission now aims to land in February and the rocket launch will take place in January 2019.
Since the weight of the Chandrayaan-2 has increased, now instead of GSLV MK-II, GSLV MK-III will be used. Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle MK-III (GSLV MK-III), also called the ‘The Bahubali‘, is India’s heaviest rocket that weighs almost 640 tons and will be used to hoist the Chandrayaan-2 satellite from Sriharikota.
Through Chandrayaan-2 Project, ISRO is hoping to declare its competence of not only orbiting a satellite but also show its technical intrepidity of the soft landing and then sending a rover on the lunar surface. The moon rover will leave a permanent imprint of India’s flag and emblem on moon’s surface.
India first sent a spacecraft to the moon in 2008 through Chandrayaan-1 which was essentially an orbiter. But it did crash land on the moon surface through the Moon Impact Probe (MIP) on November 14, 2008, through what is called a hard landing on the lunar surface. ISRO says the MIP would have broken into pieces on crash landing.
So far, Russia, the US and China have successfully soft landed a rover on the moon and now India and Israel are scrambling against each other take the fourth spot in the prestigious club.