India targets August launch for Chandrayaan-3 lunar lander

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SEOUL, South Korea — India aims for an August launch of its Chandrayaan-3 lunar lander mission, the nation’s science and technology minister said on Feb. 2.

The mission will mark India’s second attempt to land a spacecraft on the moon. A 2019 attempt failed when Chandrayaan-2’s Vikram lander and its onboard rover crashed into the lunar surface. Chandrayaan-2’s accompanying orbiter is still circling the moon and will serve as a communications relay for the Chandrayaan-3 lander and rover.

India initially planned to launch Chandrayaan-3 in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic put the project behind schedule. 

“Based on the learnings from Chandrayaan-2 and suggestions made by the national level experts, the realization of Chandrayaan-3 is in progress,” India’s science and technology minister, Jitendra Singh, said in a Feb. 2 statement. “Many related hardware and their special tests are successfully completed. The launch is scheduled for August 2022.”

Chandrayaan-3 is planned for launch from India’s Satish Dhawan Space Center aboard Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III rocket.

After reaching the moon, Chandrayaan-3 will attempt to land about 70.9 degrees south of the lunar equator — the same landing site chosen for Chandraayan-2’s landing attempt.

If successful, Chandrayaan-3 will make India the fourth country, after the United States, Russia and China, to successfully soft-land on the moon.