Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is planning to launch its second unmanned moon mission, Chandrayaan 2, in March 2018, according to a report in Hindustan Times.
The HT report quoted its sources as saying that Chandrayaan 2 would be launched on a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) MK2 rocket that will blast off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota. However, there is no clarity on the exact date of launch.
With successful completion of Chandrayaan 1 mission, India became only the fourth country to plant its flag on the moon after the US, USSR and Japan. Chandrayaan 2 will be an advanced version of Chandrayaan 1.
Like Chandrayaan 1 mission, Chandrayaan 2 will also be an example of ISRO’s “frugal engineering”. Chandrayaan 1 mission cost India just about $80 million while a similar SELENE mission undertaken by Japan cost it $480 million. Chandrayaan 2 is likely to cost a meagre $91 million.
Chandrayaan 1, launched on 22 Oct 2008, faced numerous technical difficulties and ISRO lost contact with the craft on August 29, 2009 well before the intended mission length of two years.
However, the craft had fulfilled almost 80% of its designated tasks before it lost contact with ISRO.