In its second attempt to soft-land on the Moon, India began working on its third lunar mission — Chandrayaan-3 — which is scheduled for launch in early 2021, a top space official said on Wednesday. On January 1, Sivan told the media in Bengaluru that the government had approved the ambitious mission for soft-landing of a spacecraft and a rover near the Moon’s south pole in the later part of 2020 or early 2021.
India’s maiden attempt to soft-land at the designated spot on the Moon failed on September 7, 2019, when Chandrayaan-2’s Vikram spacecraft crash-landed due to a velocity glitch.
The space agency spent Rs. 960 crores on the Chandrayaan-2 mission, whose Orbiter is circling around the moon at about 100 km from the lunar surface in an elliptical motion since August 20 last.
On India’s maiden manned mission ‘Gaganyaan’, Sivan said that four Indian Air Force (IAF) pilots selected with three of them as crew would soon visit Russia for training.
“Gaganyaan will be a historic mission for the country as three Indian astronauts will fly in a space module designed and developed indigenously,” asserted Sivan, a rocket specialist.
Former IAF Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma was the first Indian to fly in space on board the Russian Soyuz-11 mission on April 2, 1984.
On return from Russia, the IAF quartet will undergo module-specific training at the space agency’s human space flight center in this tech city where critical technologies for space missions are being developed.
Asserting that the manned mission was not a one-off feat or exercise to send a human being into space, the ISRO Chairman said: “Gaganyaan is not just about sending a man into space but creating opportunities for national and overseas collaborations with other space-faring nations”.