The probability of accommodating foreign payloads on the proposed second Indian mission to the Moon – Chandrayaan 2 – has been ruled out. Sources reaffirm that the mission will be undertaking new experiments and trying out new technologies.
The first edition of the moon mission had accommodated six foreign payloads with the five Indian ones on board. This time around, the weight of a heavy orbiter (satellite) and lander has been constraining the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) in terms of carry-load of instruments even.
Sources say that one of the main problems the team working on the mission had faced this time was weight consideration. The national committee of experts that is in charge of the mission comprises of experts from ISRO centers, academic institutions and R&D laboratories. With the constraints they are faced with this time, they concur that the weight of the payloads cannot be allowed to exceed 40 kg.
At lift off the Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft weighs about 2,650 kg – with the orbiter weighing about 1,400 kg and the lander about 1,250 kg. The mission is set to be launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota, in 2013 on board a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV). Related: Chandrayaan 1 in lunar orbit
The orbiter and rover on the mission will be built by ISRO, and the lander will be provided by Russia, which will be conducting Russian experiments. Sources have confirmed that there have been initial discussions regarding flying foreign payloads, but say that the ISRO has not declared that an opportunity of taking foreign payloads is available. There is a possibility that two additional Indian payloads may be included. The sources reaffirm that they will be providing as many options to Indian scientists as possible.
The committee has recommended that five payloads be flown on the orbiter. Three of these are new and two are improvements on the payloads that were flown on the Chadrayaan-1 orbiter. Two scientific payloads have been recommended on the rover. All seven payloads are Indian. This will be the first time that a lander and rover will be sent from India which will carry out experiments on location.
Similar expeditions have been conducted by the USA and Russia and Indian experts recommend that India should be getting more involved in the business of landers and rovers if the country is serious about moon missions. According to ISRO officials, India will be ready to undertake a manned mission to the moon in the next ten to fifteen years.