The launch of the Chandrayaan-2 probe is set for 15 July from the base of Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh. The mission will look for signs of water and fossil remains of the early solar system. The total cost is US$ 140 million. China spent US$ 8.4 billion in 2017.
New Delhi (AsiaNews) – India is set to conquer the Moon with a low-cost space mission.
The Chandrayaan-2 (moon chariot) spacecraft will take off from a tropical island in Andhra Pradesh on 15 July.
India’s dreams of becoming the fourth country in the world can thus come true with the landing of a probe – almost entirely Made in India – on the moon. The mission will also look for signs of water and fossil remains of the early solar system.
The Indian race to explore space comes five days before the 50th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 space mission, which saw humans take their first steps on the moon in 1969.
Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin saw nearly 900 million people around the world glued to their television set.
New Delhi now hopes to repeat the adventure with its own probe, which will be put into orbit from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota (100 km north of Chennai), the launch centre of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). Scientists plan to land at the lunar south pole on 6 September.
This is considered the first low cost space mission in history: US$ 140 million. By comparison, the United States, the first country in the world to land on earth’s satellite, spent about US$ 100 billion dollars in current prices on 15 Apollo missions. The Soviet Union, the first country to launch a satellite in space in 1957 and to land an unmanned probe in 1966, spent over US billion dollars at today’s values, in the 1960s and 1970s. China, which landed a probe on the far side of the Moon in January, spent US$ 8.4 billion in 2017.
The Indian space programme has made giant strides in recent years, considering that its first missile launch took place in 1963. On that occasion the rocket was transported to the launch pad on a bicycle.
The mission includes a GSLV Mk III rocket to launch the probe, a 1.4-tonne lander Vikram landing module, and a solar energy-powered, 27 -kilo Rover Prayan lunar vehicle.
According to IRSO chief K. Sivan, the 15-minute final descent will be the most terrifying moment of the whole mission.