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India announces plan to land on moon in 2018

By Ray Downs
India announces plan to land on moon in 2018
This week, India's government announced plans to make a lunar landing next year. File Photo by Ismael Mohamad/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 26 (UPI) -- India will make its second mission to the moon in 2018, the Indian Space Research Organization announced this week.

The Chandrayaan 2 spacecraft consists of an orbiter, lander and rover configuration "to perform mineralogical and elemental studies of the lunar surface," the ISRO said.

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ISRO Chairman AS Kiran Kumar told PTI that the space organization is already in the process of getting the spacecraft ready for an expected launch during the first quarter of next year.

"Things are going on," Kumar said. "The orbiter is getting ready. Flight integration activity is going on, and a series of tests are planned for lander and rover."

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India's first lunar landing project, the Chandrayaan 1, reached the moon's surface in 2008.

According to Popular Mechanics, the ISRO is attempting to make the lunar landing on a budget of $93 million, which is about the same cost of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket that's scheduled for launch by the end of this year.

The Falcon rocket, though, is only going into orbit -- and a $93 million price tag for a lunar landing could have impact on other countries' space plans.

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"A nice part of the Indian space program is that they manage to do things so cheaply," Australian National University astrobiologist Charles Lineweaver told Nature. "If it succeeds, maybe everyone else will see that their mission didn't really need that extra bell or whistle."

Several other countries, including China and Japan, are planning lunar expeditions in the coming years -- partly to better understand the moon's environmental conditions for the potential of human settlements.

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