Russia and India to Fly Lunar Mission

Russia and India to Fly Lunar Mission
India's Chandrayaan-1 is an Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) mission designed to orbit the Moon over a two year period. Packed with an international suite of science instruments, the orbiter is headed for a late 2007-2008 launch. Image (Image credit: Dan Roam)

MOSCOW – India and Russia have signed a lunar exploration agreement calling on the countries to jointlydevelop a robotic orbiter and lander that would launch together in 2013.

The accordwas signed Monday in Moscow by Anatoly Perminov, director of the Russian SpaceAgency, or Roskosmos, and Gopalan Madhavan Nair, chairman of the Indian SpaceResearch Organisation.

"Thisis a very interesting project," Perminov said in a press release postedNov. 12 on the Roskosmos Web site. "Russia and India will be developing aspacecraft jointly."

Accordingto an ISRO statement released today, the new moon lander will be dubbedChandrayaan-2. India?s first lunar probe, the Chandrayaan-1orbiter, is slated to launch in April 2008, ISRO officials said.

The lunarlander would include a research laboratory and a rover, according to theRoskosmos press release. Both the lander and orbiter would be integrated as asingle payload to be launched by India's GeostationarySatellite Launch Vehicle, the press release said.

RussianPresident Vladimir Putin singled out the accord during Indian Prime MinisterManmohan Singh's visit to Moscow on Monday.

"Weplan to continue our cooperation in such high-tech spheres,as telecommunications and exploration of space," Putin told reportersduring a joint press conference with Singh, according to the Kremlin's officialWeb site.

Meanwhile,ISRO officials said preparations for the launch of Chandrayaan-1 are goingwell. The moon orbiter is set to launch atop an Indian-built PolarSatellite Launch Vehicle and carry at least two NASA instruments to explorethe lunar surface.

Chandrayaan-1will also carry a Moon Impact Probe to demonstrate the technology required forpinpoint lunar landings, ISRO officials said Wednesday.

SPACE.comstaff writer Tariq Malik contributed to this report from New York City.

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