India has announced plans for a third lunar mission, months after the last one crash landed on the Moon’s surface.
The chairman of India’s space agency, K Sivan, said work was going “smoothly” on the Chandrayaan-3 unmanned mission.
He said the country was aiming to launch the mission in 2020 but that it “may spill over” to 2021.
If successful, it would make India the fourth country to achieve a soft landing on the Moon, and boost its credentials as a low-cost space power.
So far, only Russia, the US and China have successfully put a mission on the Moon’s surface.
chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) Mr. Sivan, told reporters that Chandrayaan-3 would have a “similar configuration” to the previous mission.
Chandrayaan-2 was the most complex mission ever attempted by India’s space agency. It had aimed to land on the south pole of the Moon – in a spot that no other landing craft had reached before – to carry out tasks including searching for water and minerals, and measuring moon quakes.
But the high-profile Moon mission failed in September, when the module crash landed. He said ‘’the new mission would land in the same area, and would “have a lander, rover and propulsion module like its predecessor”. The new equipment is set to cost some $35m (£26m), while the full cost of the mission is set to be significantly more.
Jitendra Singh, junior minister for the department of space, has said the new mission will be “quite economical”.
“The orbiter is already there. So we are going to be cutting cost,” he told the Times of India.
Plans for an unmanned mission to the Moon are just part of India’s wider ambitions of becoming a low-cost space power.