“I hope that in the next five to seven years we will be able to solve this problem”
Building on the recent success of its first-ever lunar landing, India now intends to collect samples near the lunar south pole and return them to Earth.
According to preliminary data, the Indian Space Research Organization ISRO plans to organize a mission to return Chandrayaan-4 (“Chandrayaan-4”), which includes sending four modules to the Moon over two launches.
The first step of this complex project will be to fly a lander and ascent vehicle to the lunar surface to collect samples. This will likely happen near the landing site of the now inactive Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft near the lunar south pole. Then the transport module and the return module will be launched, which will remain in lunar orbit.
Although the specific mission plan is not yet clear, it appears that the lander and ascent vehicles will land on the edge of an unidentified crater near the south pole. The Ascent Module will then transfer the samples to the Return Module, which will then be guided back to Earth by the Transfer Module. One of them will remain in Earth orbit, and the second will land.
Director of the Space Research Center Nilesh Desai said:
This is a very ambitious mission. I hope that in the next five to seven years we will be able to solve this problem.
Chandrayaan-4 is expected to be more complex than Chandrayaan-3 in several ways. Firstly, the Chandrayaan-3 rover weighed only 30 kg, while Chandrayaan-4 plans to carry a massive 350 kg rover to the Moon. Secondly, the goal of the mission is to make a difficult landing in an uncharted region. The rover will also explore a much larger area – 1000 x 1000 meters compared to 500 x 500 meters for Chandrayaan-3.