India's second mission to land on the Moon, Chandrayaan 3, confirmed by ISRO chief

India's second mission to land on the Moon, Chandrayaan 3, confirmed by ISRO chief
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chief, K. Sivan, during the New Year's press briefingISRO

  • Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chief, K Sivan, has confirmed for the first time that the agency is working on Chandrayaan 3, India's second attempt to land on the Moon.
  • Sivan stated that Chandrayaan 3 and Gaganyaan will be ISRO's top priorities in 2020.
  • The budget for Chandrayaan 3 is ₹6.51 billion, less than that of Chandrayaan 2 — already lauded for being the cheapest Moon mission ever.
India's second mission to the Moon, Chandrayaan 2, might have fallen short of expectations but the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is gearing to take another crack at it.

Along with Chandrayaan 3, ISRO will also be busy preparing for its maiden human spaceflight program — Gangayaan.

"This is going to be the year of Chandrayaan 3 and Gaganyaan, I would say," said ISRO chairman, K. Sivan, during the New Year's Day press briefing.

Sivan also disclosed that ISRO has successfully acquired the land needed to set up a second spaceport in Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu. It will be the site for the maiden launch of the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV).

The first official confirmation of Chandrayaan 3


Chandrayaan 2's lander, Vikram, crashed into the Moon on 7 September 2019. Even since then, rumours of Chandrayaan-3 have been making the rounds. However, this is the first time that the ISRO official has confirmed that it's in the works.

"One major announcement I wanted to make here, officially, is that Chandrayaan-3 is government-approved. The project is now formed. The activities for Chandrayaan-3 are going very smoothly," Sivan said.

Chandrayaan 3 will cost even less than Chandrayaan 2

Sivan explained that Chandrayaan 2's orbiter, successfully circling the Moon at an altitude of 100 kilometres, has the life-span of up to seven years. That is why Chandrayaan 3, will only be carrying a rover and a lander.

This will also reduce the cost of the project to ₹6.15 billion rupees instead of the ₹10 billion it cost to launch Chandrayaan 2 — an amount that was already lauded for behind less than the budget of Avengers Endgame.

The one thing that isn't going to change is the the ‘Bahubali' rocket. India's ‘fat boy' geosynchronous satellite launch vehicle (GSLV) will be used, yet again, to launch Chandrayaan 3 towards the Moon.

No final launch date for Chandrayaan 3 or Gangayaan

While Chandrayaan 3 will be one of ISRO's top priorities in 2020, it's unlikely that the actual launch will take place this year.

According to Sivan, it could take up to another 14 to 16 months to complete the spacecraft. He predicts that the launch will only happen in 2021.

Even Gangayaan is unlikely to get off the ground in 2020. Sivan did not disclose a launch date for the mission other than it will happen "very soon".

Even though these two missions might not be taking off in 2020, ISRO has 5 confirmed launches of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) scheduled this year. This includes the GSAT-20 satellite, NavIC, Indian Data Relay Satellite System, XPOSAT and Aditya L1, a satellite to study the Sun.

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