One of the most startling facts about India’s ambitious second mission to the moon- Chandrayaan 2 besides being the world’s first expedition to the south pole region of the moon is its economical budget. The mission is touted to be accomplished within a budget of Rs 960 crores, which is approximately $143 million, significantly cheaper than the budget of several Hollywood movies.
Recent superhit movies like Marvel’s Dark Pheonix, Avengers’ Infinity Wars and Avengers’ Endgame etc. all had their budgets on the higher side of Rs 1200 crores. However, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has managed to encapsulate the Chandrayaan-2 mission at just about Rs 960 crores.
The United States has so far invested about $100 billion (in current prices) in 15 Apollo missions to the Moon. China’s first expedition to Moon in 2007 cost about $180 million. In fact, the Chandrayaan-2 mission is cheaper than even the construction of Bandra Worli Sea link which took about $340 million.
The Chandrayaan -2 comprises two main elements: Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) ‘Bahubali’ rocket and the Lunar module (orbiter, Lander ‘Vikram’ and rover ‘Pragyan’). The GSLV Mk III rocket (Rs 370 crores) plays a vital role in overcoming Earth’s gravitational field and thrusting the satellite out of the Earth’s atmosphere. The second stage comprises of a core booster that provides thrust to the rocket after the first stage is detached. The cryogenic engine in the third stage provides the rocket with the last-mile thrust.
The Lunar module of the Chandrayaan-2(Rs 603 crore) would comprise of three integrated parts namely: the Orbiter, the Lander (Vikram) and the Rover (Pragyan). The Rover would be used to conduct experiments on the Moon’s surface. The mission is to land at the south pole of the moon. This would be the world’s first expedition to the south pole region of the Moon.
With the Chandrayaan-2 mission, ISRO will use the moon as a laboratory to better understand Earth’s history. The moon was believed to have been a part of the Earth at one point in time. The water held at the south pole of the moon might be 3-4 billion years old, containing clues of the atmosphere during the earlier days of the solar system.
Besides this, the water may also serve a utilitarian purpose as well in the distant future. Reports also suggest that ISRO would be hunting for Helium-3 as well. In future, Helium-3 could be possibly used for waste-free nuclear energy. This particular isotope is rare on Earth but is found in abundance on the moon.