Tirupati: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is all set for the country's prestigious lunar mission, Chandrayaan-2, and preparations are going on for its launch on July 15, its chairman K Sivan said on Saturday.
This will be ISRO's first mission to land on any celestial body and a follow-up to Chandrayaan-1 launched in 2008. Its objective is to take up a detailed study on understanding the origin and evolution of the moon.
"All preparations for Chandrayaan-2 are going on for the launch scheduled at 2.51 am on July 15 from Sriharikota," Sivan said after offering prayers at the Lord Venkateswara hill shrine at Tirumala near Tirupati.
The space agency had earlier said all three modules of the moon mission — Orbiter, Lander (Vikram) and Rover (Pragyan) — were getting ready for the launch and the lander was expected to touch down on the lunar surface in early September.
In a brief interaction, Sivan, also Secretary of the Department of Space, said the lander would make a soft landing in the lunar South Pole, an uncharted territory so far, on September 6. He ruled out rains posing a threat to the launch.
"There will be no effect since the launch vehicle (GSLVMkIII) is rain protected," he said.
The Chandrayaan-2 would be carried by the GSLV-MkIII, dubbed 'Fat Boy' by Indian scientists for its ability to carry satellites weighing up to four tonnes.
Asked about the total mission cost, Sivan said it was Rs 1,000 Crore.
About the 'Gaganyaan' project, India's maiden human spaceflight programme, Sivan said it was progressing and the first unmanned mission would be taken up in December next year. "Currently, the design phase has been completed. Realisation phase is going on," he said.
Two unmanned missions would be taken up, the first in December 2020 and the second on July 2021. "In December 2021, we are planning to send humans into space," he said. About selection of candidates for the mission, he said it was proceeding on schedule.
Chandrayaan-2 is an advanced version of the previous Chandrayaan-1 mission which had 11 payloads — five from India, three from Europe, two from the US and one from Bulgaria. The first mission had the credit for the discovery of water on the lunar surface.