India plans to add a surface impactor to its Moon mission, the Chandrayaan-1 lunar orbiter scheduled for launch in 2007-8. The intent is to demonstrate technologies for future missions, says Indian Space Research Organisation chairman G Madhavan Nair.

The 25kg (55lb) impactor will be an add-on module to the Chandrayaan-1, which will weigh 525kg in its final lunar orbit, including 45kg of Indian instruments and 10kg of international experiments. The impactor will free fall from the probe's 100km (62 miles)-high orbit to strike the surface at a velocity of a few kilometres per second, throwing up dust that would remain suspended for long enough to allow the particles to be analysed.

Nair says the technical challenge will be in ensuring the instrument package works properly after the high-velocity impact. The cost increase from integrating the impactor into the spacecraft will be minimal, says Dr V Adimurthy, deputy director of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre. The augmented Chandrayaan-1 will still be launched by India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle.


Source: Flight International