KARNATAKA, INDIA – India plans to make a fresh attempt to land an unmanned mission on the moon this year after a failed bid last year, the head of the country’s space program said Wednesday.
Work is going “smoothly” on the Chandrayaan-3 mission to put a rover probe on the moon’s surface, Indian Space Research Organization Chairman K. Sivan told a press conference.
“We are targeting the launch for this year but it may spill over to next year,” Sivan said. Indian sources said authorities had set November as a provisional target for launch.
India is seeking to become only the fourth nation after Russia, the United States and China to put a mission on the moon’s surface and boost its credentials as a low-cost space power.
The country’s Chandrayaan-2 module crash-landed on the moon’s surface in September.
Sivan said the new propulsion module, lander and surface rover will cost about $35 million, with a significantly higher outlay for the launch itself.
He added that India has chosen four candidate astronauts to take part in the country’s first manned mission into orbit, pledged to take place by mid-2022.
The four are to start training in Russia later this month. Up to three astronauts are to take part in the mission, which will be one of the landmark projects scheduled for the 75th anniversary of India’s independence from British rule.