India will undertake another lunar expedition in early 2018 by sending a lander and a rover to explore the Moon to unravel its origin and present conditions, a top space official said on 30 October.
The second Moon mission — Chandrayaan-2 — comes nearly a decade after India's maiden lunar odessey in November 8, 2008, through a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket, which was launched on October 22 that year.
For launching Chandrayaan-1, the ISRO used PSLV rocket as the spacecraft carried only an impact probe vehicle to crash land on the Moon surface from its orbit. "We are working towards putting an orbiter, lander, and the whole system in the lunar orbit in the first quarter of 2018," state-run Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman A.S. Kiran Kumar told reporters here.
"The orbiter is getting ready and integrated," he said. "The lander and rover are undergoing tests. Some more tests are planned for December," the ISRO chief said. The lunar spacecraft will be launched onboard the space agency's heavy rocket — Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mark II — from the second launch pad of the space port, located at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.
As part of the integration, the lander and rover would be configured for soft landing at a designated spot on the Moon and to conduct scientific experiments. The rover will emerge from the lander to observe the lunar terrain and relay the data along with images through radio links.