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India begins Chandrayaan-2 work

Following the successful launch of India's first lunar orbiter Chandrayaan-1 on 22 October the Indian Space Research Organisation is preparing for its second Moon probe, the Rp4.2 billion ($84 million) lander/rover mission Chandrayaan-2.

This mission is a joint venture with Russia scheduled for 2011-12. It will use the three-stage ISRO Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle with a cryogenic upper stage to send Chandrayaan-2's lander and rover to the Moon's surface. Russia is to provide the rover.

"We are looking at having a soft landing for Chandrayaan-2 instead of a hard landing. We should be working on technologies that will be part of the proposed Moon base. If we are to become a developed country by 2020, it will be crucial for us to develop such technologies," says ISRO's Chandrayaan-1 project director, M Annadurai, referring to the proposed international lunar outpost expected in the 2020s.

Chandrayaan-2's rover will use a robotic arm to collect samples and conduct in situ analysis of the Moon's soil. Chandrayaan-1 passed the 150,000km (93,000 miles) mark from Earth on 26 October. After its launch ISRO's Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre's projects director S Ramakrishnan said that Mars probe studies have started and that the GSLV could put a 1,000kg (2,200lb) spacecraft into Martian orbit.

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