Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 23 August 2019

Low cost space pioneer India plans moon landing this year

The world's second most populous nation will attempt to send a rover and lander to the moon's south pole

Indian Space Research Organisation's earth observation satellite HysIS is launched on board the Polar satellite launch vehicle at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota on November 29, 2018. AFP
Indian Space Research Organisation's earth observation satellite HysIS is launched on board the Polar satellite launch vehicle at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota on November 29, 2018. AFP

India is planning to land on the moon in September - three years ahead of a mission to send a human crew to space - as Prime Minister Narendra Modi intensifies a sprawling extra-terrestrial race.

The mission to the moon - India’s second - will have an orbiter, a rover and a lander, and it is likely to be launched between July 9 and July 16, the Indian Space Research Organisation said in a statement. All the modules are getting ready for the launch with an expected moon landing on September 6, it said.

Mr Modi, who is seeking a second term in the current general election, has been aggressive with his space policies.

He announced a surprise $1.4 billion manned mission last year with a deadline of 2022, which reignited a project put on the back-burner by previous governments. In March, he said India fired a missile to knock down one of its own satellites in low Earth orbit, joining the US, Russia and China in an elite group of nations that have the capability to target satellites.

In its second mission to the moon, India will seek to study the potential for mining a source of waste-free nuclear energy that could be worth trillions of dollars, apart from other scientific experiments, K Sivan, chairman of ISRO, said in an interview last year.

The governments of the US, China, India, Japan and Russia are competing with startups and billionaires Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson to launch satellites, robotic landers, astronauts and tourists into the cosmos.

India’s first mission to the moon, launched in October 2008, completed more than 3,400 orbits and ejected a probe that discovered molecules of water in the surface for the first time. India has specialised in low-cost space launches since the early 1960s, when rocket sections were transported by bicycle and assembled by hand inside St Mary Magdalene Church in Thumba, a fishing village near the tip of the Indian peninsula.

Updated: May 2, 2019 06:13 PM

SHARE

SHARE