India: ISRO has announced the launch date for Chandrayaan 2, a follow-up mission to Chandrayaan 1. ISRO has said that it will launch the next mission in March 2018.
For Chandrayaan 1 mission, ISRO used the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), with lift-off weight of 1,380 kgs, while for Chandrayaan 2 mission, ISRO will be using the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark 2 (GSLV MKII), with a lift off weight of 2,650 kgs.
The Chandrayaan 1 mission had an orbiter and a crash lander that crashed on the surface of moon.
Chandrayaan 2 would be a more complex mission. There will be three components in the mission: an orbiter, a lander, and a rover. The orbiter and the rover will be stacked on top of each other and will be injected into parking orbit. Spacecraft will then be catapulted around the earth in elliptical objects. And as the orbiter and the lander get close to each other, there will be a series of orbits.
The orbiter will be deployed at a height of 100km above the surface of moon. Unlike the first mission, the lander will attempt a soft landing. The rover will be six-wheeled and it will separate from the lander. It is estimated that the total cost of the project will be around 450 crore INR. The mission will be focused on conducting studies of the surface of moon.
Chandrayaan 1 mission found ice on the surface of moon, as well as evidence of tectonic activity there. It allowed the scientists to create first global map of water on moon’s surface. The Chandrayaan orbiter was tracked NASA using ground-based radar stations.
On 28th December 2017, ISRO will launch a rocket that will send two missions to the moon – Team Indus from India and Team Hakuto from Japan. Both the teams will use the same PSLV to win the $30 million worth Google Lunar X Prize that will be awarded to the first private company to land on the surface of moon.
If everything goes as expected, Team Indus will unfurl an Indian flag on the surface of moon on 26th January 2018, the 69th Republic Day of India.