Chandrayaan-2 Launch Put Off: India, Israel In Lunar Race For 4th Position


New Delhi: India’s ambitious Chandrayaan-2 mission, which was earlier scheduled for October first week, has been postponed till December, according to an Isro source. The mission, which was originally scheduled for April 23 this year, has been deferred for the second time.

With Israel too planning to launch a moon mission in December, it will be a race between Tel Aviv and New Delhi for the fourth position in the world to soft-land on the moon. Till now, US, Russia and China have been able to soft-land their spacecraft on the mission’s surface.

Unlike the Chandrayaan-1 programme in 2008 that involved only orbiting around the moon, Chandrayaan-2 is a much complicated mission as it involves an orbiter, a lander and a rover. The mission involves a soft-landing on the lunar surface and a rover that will walk and analysis the content on the moon’s surface.

Being India’s most challenging mission, Isro doesn’t want to take chances and taking time to fix all glitches in the lunar mission. The reason Isro is treading cautiously with this high-profile mission is because it had witnessed two satellite mission failures in the last one year — navigation satellite IRNSS-1H got stuck in the heat shield and Gsat-6A satellite went out of control after launch in April this year.

As the weight of the Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft has increased, according to the source, GSLV Mk III or Isro’s ‘fat boy’, not GSLV Mk II, will now carry the spacecraft as it has the lifting capability of over four tonnes.

Israeli nonprofit SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries will launch its mission to the moon by the year-end. SpaceIL said it involved a 1,300-pound lander piggybacking on an SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

The spacecraft will orbit the moon for almost two months before landing, where it will record and send video to the earth.