In this picture released by Isro, officials carry out the hoisting of the Vikram Lander during the integration of Chandrayaan-2, at the launch centre in Sriharikota
In this picture released by Isro, officials carry out the hoisting of the Vikram Lander during the integration of Chandrayaan-2, at the launch centre in Sriharikota

Chandrayaan-2 moon mission launch on 15 July: Five things about this 'Bahubali'

  • The ambitious mission will make India the fourth nation to land and ride on the moon to conduct various experiments on its orbit, surface, atmosphere and beneath
  • The spacecraft will carry the 1.4 tonne lander Vikram to a high plain between two craters on the lunar South Pole

India is looking to take a giant leap in its space program and solidify its place among the world's spacefaring nations with its second unmanned mission to the moon, this one aimed at landing a rover near the unexplored south pole, AP reported.

Here are a few things to know about this important mission.

1) The Indian Space Research Organization plans to launch a spacecraft using homegrown technology on Monday at 2:51 am, and it is scheduled to touch down on the moon Sept. 6 or 7. The $141 million ( 603 crore) Chandrayaan-2 mission will analyze minerals, map the moon's surface and search for water.

It will "boldly go where no country has ever gone before," ISRO said in a statement.

2) The spacecraft will have a lunar orbiter, lander and a rover. The lander will carry a camera, a seismometer, a thermal instrument and a NASA-supplied laser retroreflector that will help calculate the distance between the Earth and the moon. The lunar south pole is especially interesting because a much larger portion of it is in shadow than the north pole, presenting a greater possibility of water. Water is an essential ingredient for life, and finding it is part of science's broader goal of determining whether there is life elsewhere in our solar system, AP reported

This will be the first rover to look for water at the south pole.

GSLVMkIII carrying Chandrayaan2 spacecraft, undergoing launch checks at launch pad in Sriharikota
GSLVMkIII carrying Chandrayaan2 spacecraft, undergoing launch checks at launch pad in Sriharikota

3) Just five days before the 50th anniversary of man's first lunar landing, Chandrayaan-2 -- or Moon Chariot 2 -- will blast off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota after a decade-long build-up. Almost the entire Chandrayaan-2's orbiter, lander and rover have been designed and made in India, AFP reported

India will use its most powerful rocket launcher, GSLV Mk III, to carry the 2.4 tonne orbiter, which has a mission life of about a year.

The spacecraft will carry the 1.4 tonne lander Vikram -- which in turn will take the 27-kilogramme (60-pound) rover Pragyan -- to a high plain between two craters on the lunar South Pole. The heavy lift rocket is nicknamed 'Bahubali'.

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chief K. Sivan said Vikram's 15-minute final descent "will be the most terrifying moments as we have never undertaken such a complex mission".

The solar-powered rover can travel up to 500 metres (yards) and is expected to work for one lunar day, the equivalent of 14 Earth days.

4) Despite the relatively small budget, the mission does raise questions about how funds are allocated when the country is still battling hunger and poverty.

But national pride is at stake: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has vowed to send a manned mission into orbit by 2022.

Most experts say the geo-strategic stakes are small -- but that India's low-cost model could win commercial satellite and orbiting deals, AFP reported.

"The fundamental question that we should ask ourselves in this context is not whether India should undertake such ambitious space ventures, but whether India can afford to ignore it," K. Kasturirangan, a former ISRO chief, told AFP.

In this picture released by ISRO, Vikram Lander is seen mounted on the orbiter of Chandrayaan-2 (Photo: PTI)
In this picture released by ISRO, Vikram Lander is seen mounted on the orbiter of Chandrayaan-2 (Photo: PTI)

5) India's first lunar mission, Chandrayaan, or moon craft in Sanskrit, was launched on 22 October, 2008. It orbits the moon but does not land there. It performs high-resolution remote sensing of the moon using visible, near infrared, low energy X-rays and high-energy X-rays. One objective is to prepare a three-dimensional atlas of both the near and far sides of the moon. On 5 November, 2013, the Mars Orbiter Mission is launched. Also called Mangalyaan, it has been orbiting Mars since Sept. 24, 2014. It is India's first interplanetary venture and is studying Mars' surface features, morphology, mineralogy and atmosphere.


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