Chandrayaan 2 Launch in April, ISRO Opens Nodal Centre for Gaganyaan Work

"Right now, Chandrayaan is scheduled from March 25 to April end."

Bengaluru: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said on January 11 that it would target a mid-April launch of its second Moon mission.

It is also gearing up for its maiden human spaceflight programme, dubbed Gaganyaan. Its two uncrewed missions will happen between December 2020 and July 2021.

The space agency had earlier said Chandrayaan-2 will be launched sometime before the end of February 2019.

“Right now, Chandrayaan is scheduled from March 25 to April end. Most probably, the normal targeted date is April middle,” K. Sivan, the chairman of ISRO, said.

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The January-February window didn’t come to be because certain tests could not be conducted, Sivan told reporters as he laid out ISRO’s programmes.

“If we miss April, it will go to June,” he said in response to a question about the next launch window available, adding that “but we will be targeting April”.

Gaganyaan has been the other centre of attention of late. Sivan had said earlier this week that India’s astronauts, once selected, will be trained in India and Russia.

He also suggested that the organisation was making sure women would be part of the longlist. All candidates will be selected from the Indian Air Force.

According to The Hindu, ISRO has also set up a Human Space Flight Centre in Bengaluru, which will be led by Unnikrishnan Nair. Nair has also been director of India’s Human Space Flight Project for a few years. The centre will house 800-900 people who will steer the project, according to Sivan.

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This is in addition to the Human Space Programme Office ISRO set up last year. Led by V.R. Lalithambika, it will coordinate with the centre.

The other major ‘component’ of Gaganyaan is the GSLV Mk III launch vehicle. It had its second successful test flight in November 2018. It will have to be human-rated by 2021 for it to be okay to carry humans.

ISRO had also confirmed in September 2018 that it was setting up a third launchpad at its Sriharikota spaceport just for Gaganyaan.