Over two years after its second Moon mission had a fatal end on the lunar surface, the Indian Space & Research Organisation (Isro) is set to launch Chandrayaan-3 in August this year. The timeline was released by the Department of Space in response to questions around the delay of the Moon mission in the Lok Sabha.
The Department of Space in a written response said that based on the lessons from the Chandrayaan-2 mission and suggestions from global experts, work is underway on Chandrayaan-3. The department further said that it has completed the required tests and the launch is scheduled for August 2022.
Responding to questions over the reason behind the continuous delay of the mission, Minister of Science & Technology Dr. Jitendra Singh said that several ongoing missions were impacted due to the Covid-19 pandemic. “Reprioritisation of projects has taken place in the backdrop of space sector reforms and newly introduced demand-driven models,” the minister said in his response.
The Chandrayaan-3 mission takes cues from the first Chandrayaan mission launched in October 2008 that made major discoveries, including finding evidence of water on the lunar surface. Slated to launch in 2021, the lunar spacecraft was delayed due to the pandemic.
The third moon mission comes two years after the Chandrayaan-2 crash-landed on the far side of the Moon. While the lander and the rover crashed, the orbiter is still hovering above the lunar surface and Isro plans to use it with Chandrayaan-3 as well.
Dr. Jitendra Singh in his written reply informed that the Department of Space has planned 19 missions to be launched in 2022 as it picks up pace following successive delays. During the year, Isro will liftoff 08 launch vehicle missions, 07 spacecraft missions, and 04 technology demonstrator missions. “With the unlocking space sector reforms, the Department of Space is in the process of reviewing the future requirements of satellites based on the demand-driven model. Discussions with the ministries and probable customers are underway,” the minister said.
The first launch of 2022 is likely to take place in Valentine’s Day week as the space agency gears to launch the Earth Observation Satellite, also called the RISAT-1A onboard the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle. The final date for the launch is yet to be announced.
RISAT-1A is part of the Radar Imaging Satellite (RISAT) series that is used for radar imaging and reconnaissance. These satellites are placed in the low earth orbit about 500 kilometers above the surface of the planet.