Chandrayaan-3 is likely to be launched in early 2021 instead of the second half of 2020 as suggested by the government. Union Minister Jitendra Singh made the announcement on Sunday while adding that India's mission to Moon will include a rover and a lander but not an orbiter like its predecessor.
Following the hard landing of Chandrayaan-2 in September of last year, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) had mentioned its plans of launching another mission to the moon by the end of 2020. However, the novel coronavirus pandemic has led to a delay in the launch of Chandrayaan-3.
Aimed at the Moon's South Pole, Chandrayaan-2 was launched on July 22, 2019. The Vikram hard-landed on the lunar surface on September 7. Officials have confirmed that despite the setback, the orbiter is in working condition and is able to transmit data back to earth.
Jitendra Singh, Minister of State (MoS) for Department of Space said Chandrayaan-1 which was ISRO's maiden mission to the Moon has transmitted images suggesting Moon may be rusting along the poles.
"The sign of this finding is that even though the surface of the Moon is known to have iron-rich rocks, it is not known for the presence of water and oxygen, which are the two elements needed to interact with iron to create rust," Jitendra Singh said.
This could also be a sign that the Earth's atmosphere is sheltering the moon as well, scientists at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said. They further added, "Thus, the Chandrayaan-1 Moon data indicates that the Moon's poles are home to water, this is what the scientists are trying to decipher."
At the same time, India is also gearing up for its first-ever Human Space mission Gaganyaan for which training processes and other procedures are currently underway.
Minister Jitendra Singh said, "Constraints due to the COVID pandemic led to some disruptions in the plan for Gaganyaan but efforts are going on to stick to the timeline of around 2022."