India is all set to make advancement in lunar study with two new missions early next year as Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will launch its Chandrayaan-2 mission, which is an upgraded version of its previous 2018 mission that will aim towards deeper understanding of lunar surface.
Another mission will be launched by a group of young engineers, called Team Indus which will be headed by IIT-Delhi alumnus Rahul Narayan. The mission is seen as part of a global contest that will help them win $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE. The competition demands movement of 500 meters on the moon’s surface by each team and also be able to fetch high-definition images back to Earth.
Team Indus is leaving no stone unturned to achieve its goal as it has managed to rope in investors like Infosys co-founder and former UIDAI chairman Nandan Nilekani and space experts such as former ISRO chairman K Kasturirangan and many experienced old hands from the Indian space agency.
As confirmed by ISRO chairman A S Kiran Kumar, Team Indus will using PSLV to carry its 600-kg spacecraft to the lunar orbit, while on the other hand ISRO will use its heavylift rocket GSLV Mk II for the mission.
“Team Indus has signed an agreement with Antrix (Isro’s commercial arm) for using the launch service of PSLV.”
“Both the missions are scientifically and technically totally different. Even the instruments used in the two spacecrafts will be different. There is no question of any comparison.” Kiran Kumar wished Team Indus “all the best for the mission,” Isro chairman said.
Apart from Team Indus, a US team (Moon Express), an Israeli team (SpaceIL) and an international team (Synergy Moon) have also procured launch contracts. A PSLV rocket will take Team Indus’ 600 kg spacecraft to the lunar orbit, while ISRO will use its GSLV Mk II rocket for the mission.
Dr K Sivan, director of Thiruvananthapuram-based Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, told TOI, “Unlike the 2008 Chandrayaan-1 mission when PSLV rocket was used for carrying the spacecraft, this time Isro is planning to take a heavier payload (combined launch mass: 3,250 kg) comprising orbiter, lander and rover to the moon. Therefore, GSLV Mk II is the preferred choice.”
About Chandrayaan 2 mission:
Chandrayaan 2 consists of an Orbiter, Lander and Rover configuration. It is an advanced version of the Chandrayaan-1 mission.
According to ISRO, the Chandrayaan 2 will be launched in form of a composite stack into the Earth Parking Orbit (EPO) of 170 X 18,500 km. The GSLV-Mk II will carry the Chandrayaan 2.
The Orbiter with scientific payloads will hover in the orbit around the Moon, while the Lander will make a soft landing on the surface of the Earth’s natural satellite and deploy the Rover.
The Chandarayaan-1 had only orbited the moon, while the second mission, the ISRO chief says would have a 6ft-long rover which will conduct in situ soil analysis after the soft-landing on the moon's surface.
The Indian space agency had scripted history on February 15, 2017 by launching a record number of 104 satellites in a single mission.
Scientists at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota are currently preparing the launch of a Saarc satellite on board GSLV MK-II by March-end and the first developmental flight of GSLV MK-III in April.
About Team Indus?
Team Indus is a for-profit organization, and the only Indian company in the competition. It was founded by IIT-Delhi alumnus Rahul Narayan, Indranil Chakraborty and Julius Amrit.
Currently, it has over 100 staff including retired ISRO scientists and several aeronautic engineers.
Even though the company joined the competition three years after the Lunar Xprize was announced, it was one of the three teams to win $1 million milestone award for the successful pilot test of lunar lander technology.
What is Google Lunar XPRIZE?
The $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE is a competition that challenges and inspires engineers and entrepreneurs from around the world to develop low-cost methods of robotic space exploration.
In order to win the Google Lunar XPRIZE, a privately funded team is required to successfully place a rover on the surface of the moon. The rover should explore at least 500 meters and should be able to transmit high-definition video and images back to Earth.
XPRIZE designs and implements innovative competition models in order to solve the grandest challenges in the world. Active competitions include the $30M Google Lunar XPRIZE, the $20M NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE, the $15M Global Learning XPRIZE, the $10M Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE, the $7M Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE, the $7M Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPRIZE, the $5M IBM Watson AI XPRIZE, the $1.75M
Water Abundance XPRIZE and the $1M Anu & Naveen Jain Women’s Safety XPRIZE.