India Could Land on the Moon in 2020 with Chandrayaan 3

A still from a video produced by ISRO showing how its Vikram lander was meant to touch down on the moon on Sept. 6, 2019.
A still from a video produced by ISRO showing how its Vikram lander was meant to touch down on the moon on Sept. 6, 2019. (Image credit: ISRO)

Just months after a landing anomaly, India is hard at work pursuing another try at touching down on the moon, according to a news report.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is already designing Chandrayaan 3, which would only include a lander and a rover because India already has a working orbiter at the moon — Chandrayaan 2.

Chandrayaan 2 attempted to deploy a lander called Vikram on Sept. 6, but that spacecraft fell silent during landing. India said that it saw Vikram on the surface after the landing, but instruments on NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter hadn't spotted it as of late October.

Related: India's Chandrayaan-2 Mission to the Moon in Photos

An unnamed scientist quoted in The Times of India on Wednesday (Nov. 13) said the new lander would have stronger legs to allow the spacecraft to withstand touching the surface at a higher velocity during landing.

"It is essential to carry out detailed analysis on the changes for improving the lander system considering the recommendations of both the expert committee (formed to look into Chandrayaan 2) and the recommendations which could not be implemented due to [the] advanced stage of Chandrayaan 2 flight preparation," read an ISRO office order quoted in the Times.

ISRO has three subcommittees and an overall panel examining the new mission, and has already held at least four high-level meetings since October, the newspaper added. "On Tuesday [Nov. 12], the overview committee met with the agenda of reviewing the configuration of Chandrayaan 3," the Times said, examining aspects such as the landing site, navigation techniques and spacecraft components.

A launch date and the suggested payloads for Chandrayaan 3 have not been released, although the Times reports that the deadline for the project is November 2020. The Chandrayaan 2 orbiter remains in good health, according to ISRO, and the instruments on board are gathering science data.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: