The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman K. Sivan announced that the Chandrayaan-2 mission to the moon will be launched on July 15. The Chandrayaan-2 mission consists of three major components – the Orbiter, the Lander Vikram and Rover Pragyan. The Chandryaan-2 mission is India’s first moon lander and rover mission.
The space race has become extremely competitive in that there is a large number of private entities engaged in a fierce battle of space domination. Not more than five decades ago, space missions were said to be matters of national pride and prestige. Now, these missions seek to monetise space-based services and resources with the involvement of commercial conglomerates.
Chandrayaan-2 mission is scheduled to kick off on 15 July and set ground near the Moon’s south pole, an uncharted territory. India’s lunar orbiter is carrying eight payloads, Vikram (lunar lander) – carrying four payloads and Pragyaan (rover)- carrying two payloads. Each weighing 2,379 kg, 1,371 kg and 27 kg, respectively. The mission cost for Chadrayaan-2 is estimated to come up to $86 million (Rs 603 crore) and a launch cost of $54 million (Rs 375 crore).
One need not go far to prove India’s strength in the global commercial launch industry than to the ISRO’s trusted workhorse- the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). In 2015-16, for example, ISRO earned Rs 420.9 crore from launching satellites for other countries. The popularity of PSLV in the commercial industry sparked fears with lobbyists calling for a ban against the PSLV. They were of the view that the ISRO launch vehicle extensive usage “distort conditions of the competition” as ISRO is a government agency.
The success of the Chandrayaan-2 mission will prove India’s capability to carry payloads to the surface of the moon. If India plans to continue the exploration of the moon after Chandrayaan-2, some additional capacity on the lunar orbiter and rover can be allocated to commercial payloads.
Chandrayaan-2, about 3,500 kg in weight, will be launched on the heavy-lift GSLV-Mk III rocket at 2.51 a.m. from Sriharikota. The scientific payloads are expected to perform mineralogical and elemental studies of the lunar surface. The mission carries 14 payloads or instruments to observe and gauge the lunar scene – both from a distance and on its surface.
One of them is a tiny NASA reflectometer to mark the spot for future missions and assess the distance from the earth. The moon landing is planned for September 6 or 7. The Chandrayaan-2 mission is one of the most expectant scape explorative missions and the world is watching ISRO in its second attempt to reach the lunar surface after the successful Chandrayaan-1 mission, ten years ago.