BENGALURU: In a quiet move, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has taken steps to achieve a successful lunar landing under a new project director for Chandrayaan-3, scheduled to be launched in November 2020.
An ISRO office order dated November 28, has moved scientist/engineer ‘SF’ P Veeramuthuvel, posted at the headquarters of the country’s premier space agency in Bengaluru, to be the project director of Chandrayaan-3. Ritu Karidhal, however, will continue to be the mission director of Chandrayaan-3 mission.
The order also moves the Chandrayaan-2 project director M Vanitha to take charge as deputy director, Payload, Data Management and Space Astronomy Area.
A subsequent order on December 7 appointed Veeramuthuvel as head of the project management team comprising 29 deputy directors in charge of various mission activities, including the new lander and rover.
ISRO scientists said that work on Chandrayaan-3 had already begun in mid-November, and explained that as the Chadrayaan-2 orbiter was already in the lunar orbit, Chandrayaan-3 would not need an orbiter. It will instead have a propulsion module to carry the spacecraft to the lunar orbit and release it for landing.
According to ISRO officials, in 2016, Veeramuthuvel had presented a paper on an effective method of controlling vibrations in the electronic package of spacecraft, which was tested at UR Rao Satellite Centre in Bengaluru.
The Rs 978 crore Chandrayaan-2 mission, which was scheduled to make a landing on the lunar surface on September 7, failed to achieve a soft landing, and it crashed instead due to reasons still to be officially ascertained.
The lander, named Vikram, was to make a landing at a location between two craters of Manzinus C and Simpelius N near the moon’s south pole, and would have made India the first country to achieve a touchdown in this region.
The mission took off after an initial hiccup when the earlier launch date of the mission—July 15—had to be postponed by a week to July 22 following the timely detection of a technical snag in one of the fuel tanks of the GSLV Mk III M1 launcher, which lifted the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter carrying lander Vikram and rover Pragyan.