This year, the whole nation was heartbroken when the Vikram lander of Chandrayaan-2 mission in July 2019 went missing mere five minutes before the intended soft-landing.
A photo of India’s prime minister Narendra Modi hugging and consoling ISRO chief K Sivan went viral, and people from all corners of the country took to social media to show their support for the Indian space agency.
The ISRO is once again all set to attempt a soft landing on the moon with Chandrayaan-3. The launch of the nearly Rs 600-crore Chandrayaan-3 is targeted for the end of this year or early 2021.
As reported by The Hindu, ISRO has planned 25 missions for year 2020 and the ground work for two major missions - Chandrayaan 3 and Gaganyaan - has been progressing smoothly. ISRO has sought a budget of Rs 14 crore from the government for the year.
What went wrong with Chandrayaan-2?
ISRO Chairman K Sivan, answering the questions regarding the failure of the Vikram lander, said that the navigation control and guidance mechanism in the penultimate phase was not designed to handle the large spike in speed that developed in the last 3-5 minutes of its descent.
“We are looking at all navigation guidance and control aspects. We learnt from telemetry data that the design could not take the large difference in velocity. We have learnt our lessons from the failure,” he said.
The ISRO chief added that the the problem had been corrected in the new modules of Chandrayaan-3 which is due to be sent around the end of this year.
Chandrayaan-3 will be almost a repetition of the previous mission in the configuration of spacecraft, the landing spot on the moon and the experiments to be conducted on the lunar surface, Sivan said.
ISRO is also building a second launch port in Tamil Nadu’s Thoothukudi. Currently, ISRO utilises Sriharikota launch centre in Andhra Pradesh. Sivan states that Thoothukudi provides a locational advantage to launch towards India’s south. The work for acquiring around 2,300 acres of land has already started.
Initially, the Thoothukudi launch centre will be used for small satellite launch vehicle (SSLV) meant to put a payload of up to 500 kg in space. The first half of the year 2020 will see SSLV’s launch.
First launch of the year for ISRO would be GSAT 30, a communication satellite.
The preparations for country’s maiden mission to send men to space are also on the fast track, Sivan informed.
Gaganyaan, announced by PM Modi in 2018, the Rs10,000-crore mission is scheduled for 2022 to have 3-7 crew members spend 3-7 days in space in a 400-km orbit.
Four Indian Air Force personnel identified for the mission will leave for Russia this month to receive the training.
As per an agreement signed between the Indian and Russian space agencies last year, the four will leave in the third week of January to be trained at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Centre in Moscow.
They were selected after a series of fitness and endurance tests at the IAF’s Institute of Aerospace Medicine, Bengaluru, and Russia.
The first of the two pre-Gaganyaan flights with a humanoid will be launched this year-end along with some of the six shortlisted micro-gravity experiments, the ISRO chief said.