The space road to Chandrayaan-2 is now clear. The significance of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-F05) mission’s success on Thursday is that the rocket is now more than qualified to put Chandrayaan-2 into orbit.
The interfaces between GSLV-Mk II and Chandrayaan-2 have already been finalised, according to officials in the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
A GSLV-Mk II vehicle will put Chandrayaan-2 with a lander and a rover into orbit in the first quarter of 2018. It will be a totally indigenous mission — the vehicle, the spacecraft, the lander and the rover are all made in India. The orbiter (that is, the spacecraft), the lander and rover together will weigh 3,280 kg. After the spacecraft is inserted into the lunar orbit, the lander with the rover inside it will separate and land softly on the moon’s surface.
The lander will have a throttleable engine for performing a soft landing and four sites have been short-listed for this. After it touches down on a flat surface on the moon, the 25-kg rover — which is a kind of a toy car — will emerge from it. It will have six wheels, made of aluminium, to move about on the lunar soil. The wheels will interact in such a way that the rover does not sink. The rover will move at a speed of two cm a second. Its lifetime on the moon is 14 earth days; it will have two payloads for analysing the soil’s chemical properties.