India is likely to launch its third lunar mission Chandrayaan-3 in the third quarter of next year because the Covid-19 pandemic has delayed the fabrication of the spacecraft, Union minister of state for the department of space Jitendra Singh told Parliament in a written response (CHECK). The tentative schedule is based on the assumption that work will proceed apace and normally henceforth, Singh added.
Chandrayaan-3 was planned to demonstrate India’s capability of soft landing on a celestial body, with the rover then communicating with Earth via the existing orbiter from Chandrayaan-2. The orbiter has an estimated lifespan of seven years. The third mission was announced months after the Vikram lander aboard Chandrayaan-2 crash-landed on the lunar surface just 2.1 km from its destination in September 2019. Chandrayaan- 3 was initially scheduled for late 2020 or early 2021, but the disruption caused by the pandemic affected the schedule.
“The realisation of Chandrayaan-3 involves various processes, including finalisation of configuration, subsystem realisation (manufacturing), integration, spacecraft-level detailed testing and a number of special tests to evaluate the systems performance on Earth.