ISRO’s next Moon mission

ISRO is on a roll with yet another ambitious lunar mission in the offing- Chandrayaan-3. ISRO’s next Moon mission might even include bringing back samples from the Moon’s polar region. For this mission, ISRO will be tying up with JAXA (Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency). A statement issued by ISRO has stated, “ISRO and JAXA scientists are conducting a feasibility study to realise a joint satellite mission to explore the Moon’s polar region.”

A word on JAXA is important here. Besides a recent risky yet successful second landing on an asteroid of Japan’s asteroid explorer Hayabusa 2, JAXA in collaboration with other players is developing a lunar rover to help people live on the moon by 2040. It is also expected to help people live on Mars.

As far as space technology is concerned, India has proven her success, even commercially, by launching the most efficient and technologically sophisticated missiles and space vehicles.

On the other hand, Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is arguably the most prominent space technology organization after NASA. ISRO, the government body responsible for developing space technology, is all set to launch Chandrayaan -3 based on the learning from Chandrayaan-2.

The joint mission is slated to be implemented in 2024. It would follow ISRO‘s first manned space mission in 2022. The two countries have discussed it at top level in inter-governmental discussions during PM Modi’s visit to Japan in 2018.

In a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha, Jitendra Singh, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science and Technology, said, “Based on the learning from Chandrayaan-2 and suggestions made by the national level experts, the realization of Chandrayaan-3 is in progress. Many related hardware and their special tests are successfully completed and the launch is scheduled for August 2022.”

Besides the other scientific pursuits, Chandrayaan-3 would also demonstrate India’s capability of soft landing on a celestial body, with the rover then communicating with Earth via the existing orbiter from Chandrayaan-2. This orbiter has an estimated lifespan of seven years.

In the last few years, as part of the reforms in the space sector, the government has enabled the entry of private players in space technology. These private players will be able to use the platform and infrastructure of ISRO for a nominal fee and innovate on top of that to offer services for commercial applications.

As per the Economic Survey, the space technology startups are growing exponentially in India and the number has reached 44 within a few years of opening up the sector.

After the launch of Chandrayaan 2, Prime Minister Modi tweeted “Efforts such as #Chandrayaan2 will further encourage our bright youngsters towards science, top quality research and innovation. Thanks to Chandrayaan, India’s Lunar Programme will get a substantial boost. Our existing knowledge of the Moon will be significantly enhanced.”

The lunar mission will be launched by Japan’s H3 launch vehicle, which is currently under development. The lunar mission will send a rover-loaded lander to the moon. The lander will touchdown on the moon’s south pole, where water is believed to exist. The rover will then try to explore an area of 500 square meters and try to detect water on the surface of the moon using onboard analysis equipment.



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