The Indian Space Research Organisation will finalise details of Chandrayaan-II in six months, said Chairman G. Madhavan Nair.
Talking to reporters on the sidelines of the 58th International Astronautical Congress here, he said the ISRO would consider sending a lander-rover, which can move on the surface of the moon. The conceptual design for the project was being evolved.
As for Chandrayaan-I, the ISRO was building the spacecraft. It would carry two instruments from the United States and also payloads from European countries including Bulgaria. However, the primary missions would be carried out with six Indian instruments.
Chandrayaan-I was mostly a remote-sensing spacecraft, meant for scanning the lunar surface for minerals and water.
The next project would look at the possibility of collecting samples and analysing them on the spot. Though Chandrayaan-II was basically an Indian mission, the ISRO would consider participation by other countries case by case if they showed interest in it.
Asked whether India had plans to participate in the International Space Station, Mr. Nair said, “We don’t have a meaningful proposal to conduct any experiment”.
On the proposed 60 ISRO missions, he said a series of communication and earth observation satellites including Oceansat and the radar imaging satellite had been lined up to meet national needs.
The capacity of the communication satellite was proposed to be increased from 200 to 500 transponders. This would require 10 missions to complete.
Also planned were 10-12 earth observation satellites and another 10 communication satellites. The GSLV Mark-III would be operational in two years.
“In situ chemical analysis and resource exploration is the main objective of Chandrayaan-II,” a scientist associated with the mission said.
India had begun initial technical discussions on Chandrayaan-II which is expected to be a much shorter mission than Chandrayaan-I scheduled for launch later this year.
An agreement for Chandrayaan-II was signed by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Roskosmos, the Russian Federal Space Agency during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Moscow in November last year.
Mineral samples from the moon contained Helium 3, a variant of the gas used in refrigerators, and Chandrayaan-II will also look out for the gas which experts believe may offer a solution to energy shortages. The current Chinese moon mission is also exploring this prized source of energy.
Chandrayaan-II will benefit from the country’s maiden moon mission which will survey the lunar surface to produce a complete map of its chemical characteristics and 3-dimensional topography over a two-year period.
The survey of the lunar surface will help scientists identify the exact place for landing the rover and strategic locations to carry out experiments.
ISRO recently established a 32-meter diameter antenna at Byalalu near Bangalore for providing tracking and command support for Chandrayaan-I.
The antenna and associated systems are the first steps in building the Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN), that is vital for facilitating a two-way radio communication link between the spacecraft and the earth.
The DSN-32 project will provide ISRO the capability to handle deep space missions besides allowing it to extend cross-support to similar missions by other nations because of its inter-operable features, world standards specifications and state-of-the-art capabilities.
Besides six Indian instruments, the mission is carrying payloads from the US, Germany, France, the UK and Sweden.
“All systems are progressing as per schedule for April 2008 launch,” a scientist said.
The first phase will predominantly have remote sensing equipment like X-rays and gamma and laser imaging machines.
The remote sensing satellite will weigh 1,304 kgs (590 kg initial orbit mass and 504 kg dry mass) and carry high resolution remote sensing equipment for visible, near infra-red, soft and hard X-ray frequencies.