A decade after the Chandrayaan-1, the famous probe that discovered water molecules on the moon, India is again returning to the moon with its Chandrayaan-2. As per the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), the mission features three modules; an orbiter, a lander by the name of Vikram, and a rover that has been named Pragyan.
The mission was expected to launch in April but has been slated for execution between July 9 and July 16. The spacecraft will be launched from Sriharikota, an island off India’s southeastern coast. The spacecraft is expected to land on the moon on September 6. It will be carried into space by a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV Mk III) rocket – also developed by the ISRO.
Chandrayaan-2 has seen multiple delays already. It was scheduled for launch in 2013 when the mission came face to face with technical concerns related to the Russian-built lander. The problems continued through 2015, and it was then that the ISRO decided to build its own lander. The new lander has been named Vikram as a tribute to Vikram Sarabhai, also known as the father of the Indian space program.
The spacecraft will be carrying a total of 13 individual payloads, with three of them housed in the rover Pragyan (Wisdom in the Sanskrit language) and 10 onboard the lander, Vikram. Dr Kailasavadivoo Sivan, ISRO Chief, said, ‘Once Vikram lands on the lunar surface on September 6, rover Prayan will come out of it and roll out on the lunar surface for 300 to 400 meters (984 feet to 1312 feet). It will spend 14 Earth days on the moon carrying out different scientific experiments.’ Pragyan is capable of analyzing the lunar surface and sending the data and images back to the Earth within 15 minutes as per Sivan.
ISRO is trying to build on its previous discoveries with Chandrayaan-2. The mission will be attempting to land closer to the moon’s south pole, where the majority of the body’s ice water is stored. India will become the fourth nation to land a spacecraft on the moon if it succeeds. An ISRO official says, ‘We saw Israel’s example, and we don’t want to take any risk. Despite Israel being such a technologically advanced country, the mission failed. We want the mission to be a success.’