The ambitious projects include ISRO’s mission Chandrayaan-2 and Team Indus’s tricolour-hoisting mission.
India will launch twin missions to the moon — ISRO’s mission Chandrayaan-2 and Team Indus’s tricolour-hoisting mission — by the beginning of next year.
Chandrayaan-2 aims to further understanding of the moon. On the other hand, Team Indus is set to compete for Google Lunar XPRIZE with their spaceship and plans to unfurl the Indian flag on the moon on Republic Day next year, the Times of India reported.
As decided in 2010, Russian Space Agency ROSCOSMOS was supposed to develop the lander for this advanced version of the moon mission, while ISRO was to put together the Orbiter and the Rover. Later on, plans changed and ISRO became responsible for developing the Lunar Lander too, making Chandrayaan-2 a completely Indian mission.
Instead of the PSLV satellite launcher, this time, ISRO is set to use GSLV MKII; the choice has been propelled by a heavier payload which has combined mass of 3,250 kg. GSLV uses more thrust than PSLV during the launch and thus can take heavier satellites into space.
The payload consists of an Orbiter, a Lander, and a Rover; the combined stack will be first launched by GSLV-Mk II into the Earth Parking Orbit which is a temporary spot before the satellite continues towards its final trajectory.
The Orbiter then takes the combined stack to the Lunar orbit and inserts the artificial satellite there. The Lander leaves the Orbiter at this orbit and lands on its designated spot on the moon and deploys the Rover on the surface. The orbiter goes round the moon on its course with scientific payloads.
The project costs Rs 425 crore without the cost of the lander and GSLV launcher. The three satellite components are together meant to carry out mineralogical and elemental studies of the moon’s surface.
The Chandrayaan-1 mission was fairly successful and as per ISRO, the "lunar probe", which landed on the moon’s surface, “detected water in vapour form in trace amounts”.
Out of the 33 teams participating in Google Lunar XPRIZE competition, only five are remaining and Team Indus is one of them.
The team, headed by IIT alumnus Rahul Narayan, is competing against Israel and US among others, to win USD 30 million prize money.
Google Lunar XPRIZE, announced in 2007, aimed to inspire engineers and scientists to create low-cost modes to explore space. To win, the team has to be the first among the competitors to land a rover on the moon to cover a distance of minimum 500 metres and transmit high definition pictures back to Earth.
Team Indus will be the first privately-funded project from India to land a robot on the moon.
With its ambitious plan, Team Indus has received several big investors to put faith in them. Among the prominent investors are Infosys co-founder and ex-chairman of UIDAI Nandan Nilekani and former ISRO chairman K Kasturirangan.
Nilekani, impressed with the young venture, told TOI, “I invested in Team Indus as I believe in their audacious mission to reach and land on the moon.”Indus will be using a much lighter satellite ship than Chandrayaan-2 as their purpose is very different and less intensive. Hence, the team will be using PSLV launcher, for which they have reportedly signed a launch agreement with ISRO’s commercial arm Antrix.