The next mission by Isro is a spectacular launch of 104 satellites on a single PSLV rocket scheduled for 15 February, but Isro is looking far beyond just the orbit of the Earth. Isro has executed a number of economical interplanetary missions, including the Chandrayaan mission to the Moon and the Mangalyaan mission to Mars. Isro was the first space agency in the world to put a satellite in orbit around the red planet on the maiden attempt.
Based on the success of Chandrayaan and the Mars Orbiter Mission, a team of Isro scientists are studying the feasibility of future interplanetary missions to Mars and Venus. The plans for such interplanetary spaceflights are under discussion, and the study team is exploring the various opportunities and options for missions to Mars and Venus, the closest planetary neighbours to Earth. Based on the recommendations of the study team, the plans for missions to Venus and Mars will be chalked out.
There are more details available now of the Chandrayaan-2 mission, Isro's next mission to the Moon. The mission will have three components, an orbiter, a lander and a rover. After reaching an orbit 100 km over the surface of the moon, the lander will separate from the orbiter and soft land on the surface, after which the rover will be deployed. Isro is in the process of testing the sensors and actuators for soft landing on the surface of the Moon.
Isro engineers have formulated tests for the new systems in the lander, and has conducted a Lander Sensors Performance Test over artificial craters created in the Chitradurga district in Karnataka. A Lunar Terrain Test facility has been prepared for tests of the drop tests of the lander, and mobility tests of the rover. The six wheeled rover will be semi-autonomous, and the movements will be partially controlled from the ground.
The instruments on the rover will observe the lunar surface and send back data. There are no plans to collect soil, rock or samples of moondust. The Chandrayaan-2 mission is expected to be launched in the first quarter of 2018. The Chandrayaan-2 mission initially slated for the 2011-2012 time frame. There were initially plans to have a moon impact probe, which has now been upgraded to a soft landing probe.
In 2007, India signed an agreement with Russia, in support of Chandrayaan-2. Russia would be providing the lander and rover, while India would be responsible for the orbiter. The agreement is part of a long running cooperation between Roskosmos and Isro. Two moon rovers by Team Hakuto in Japan and Team Indus from India will be ride-sharing on a PSLV scheduled for a 28 December 2017 launch to reach the Lunar surface.
Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Development of North-Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh provided the information in written responses to questions posed at the Lok Sabha on 8 February and 9 February.