2018 is going to be a blissful year for India as the country is going to witness the launch of two revolutionary lunar missions in the early of the coming year. As confirmed by the Bengaluru-headquartered Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) in its official statement on Sunday, two lunar missions with different aims to explore more possibilities on the lunar surface are on the card for the early of 2018. India will witness the glorious launch of ISRO’s historic Chandrayaan-2 mission alongside another lunar mission of the agency, in collaboration with the same city-based emerging space team – Team Indus, led by IIT-Delhi alumnus Rahul Narayan and a group of space enthusiasts.
Chandrayaan-2 is the biggest mission of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for the year 2018. In contrast, Team Indus’s mission is selected as a part of an International competition, called Google Lunar X PRIZE, held by tech-giant Google. The Team Indus group with the endorsements from former UIDAI chairman and co-founder of Infosys Nandan Nilekani, former chairman of ISRO, K Kasturirangan and other space researchers from the Indian space agency, is bidding to win a total prize sum of $30 million for its next lunar mission.
As proposed, the emerging space enthusiast team is planned to furl the Indian Flag – Tricolour on the lunar surface on 26th January 2018, on the auspicious occasion of Republic Day of India, while ISRO’s Chandrayaan-2 mission is estimated to take off in the early months of the same year. As confirmed by the Chairperson of ISRO, A S Kiran Kumar, “both missions are scientifically and technically different and also use various instruments. However, what makes them universal are the involvement of ISRO and their single objective of finding more about Earth’s only natural satellite – Moon.”
As ISRO confirmed, the advanced version of ISRO’s earlier Chandrayaan-1 mission, the Chandrayan-2 will consist of an Orbiter, Lander, and Rover and will be launched as a compound hoard into the Earth Parking Orbit (EPO) atop GSLV-Mk II. The spacecraft and its configured parts are currently being tested at ISRO’s facilities in Tirunelveli district in Tamil Nadu, in Chitradurga district near Bangalore, and India’s Silicon Valley and in the early months of 2018, it will take off from the Sriharikota High Altitude Range (SHAR).
On the other hand, Team Indus’s mission lunar-craft will be stationed atop Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PLSV) of ISRO and will be launched from ISRO’s space port at Sriharikota. While the entire launch payload of ISRO’s Chandrayan-2 is more than 3000kg, in contrast to Team Indus’s weak satellite, weighing some 600 kg. According to Rahul Narayan, the lead of Team Indus, “We are competing with ISRO by any means for exploring the moon, because we are just like a team of T-20 against ISRO’s full-fledged test match team.”