India's second mission to Moon appears headed for a prolonged delay following uncertainty over availability of lander from Russia even as the 'desi' rocket to launch the space odyssey would take time to become operational.
The ambitious Chandrayaan-2 project seems to be in a limbo with both Indian and Russian sides beset with their own space technology-related issues, pushing the joint moon exploration mission, already hit by time overruns, to the back-burner.
"Chandrayaan-2 is the logical extension of the first moon mission. In this mission a soft lander will place a rover on the moon's surface which will collect physical samples, analyse and send results to earth. This is the logical extension of Chandrayaan-1 to confirm the findings of remote sensing through physical tests," according to an official of Indian Space Research Organisation.
ISRO and Russia's Federal Space Agency (Roskosmos) signed an agreement on joint lunar research and exploration in November 2007, with the cooperation envisaging Chandrayaan-2, involving a lunar orbiting spacecraft and a lander/rover on the Moon's surface.
It was agreed at the time that ISRO will have the prime responsibility for the orbiter and Roskosmos for the lander/rover, with the launch on India's Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) around the 2011-12 time frame.
India undertook the maiden mission to Moon in 2008 and Chandrayaan-2 was positioned as the next logical step for more detailed and in situ study of the Moon.
Declining to discuss the timeframe for the mission, ISRO Chairman K Radhakrishnan, who is also Secretary in the Department of Space, said: "We will not be able to say that (time-line) because the uncertainty remains on the lander availability.