The Indian mission Chandrayaan-2 was due to take off on July 15, 2019, but it was cancelled 1 hour before launch because of technical issues. No new date was announced so far.
The first pictures of the spaceship appeared on the internet. Chandrayaan-2 has a mass of 3.8 tons and carries fourteen scientific instruments distributed between an orbiter, a lander and a rover. Chandrayaan-2 will attempt to land near the South Pole of the Moon. We know that this region attracts all desires. It is at the center of the Chinese Chang’e program. NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine also spoke of it as an area of strategic importance. There are indeed large quantities of water in the form of water ice, as well as peaks of eternal light, very interesting reliefs to power solar panels energy.
Other entities have decided to temper their enthusiasm in this rush to the Moon. This is the case of SpaceIL, the Israeli organization that tried to make the Beresheet spacecraft land on the Moon last April. After having failed a few kilometers from the lunar surface, SpaceIL had announced to retry the adventure quickly. The organization has tweeted on June 25, 2019 that it continues to work on the mission Beresheet 2, but apparently it will no longer target the Moon. We have no clue about the new target, but we hope that the adventure will be as exciting as Berresheet’s one.
Same thing at TeamHindus, one of the organizations that competed for the Google Lunar XPrize. It hoped to launch a lunar spaceship in the coming years but decided last month to give up this goal. They will focus on working with OrbitBeyond as part of the CLPS program. It is a way to continue the adventure but in a less independent way. At German organization PTScientists, they keep the lunar goal, but add delays. The team is now targeting the third quarter of 2021 for its first flight, a two-year delay on the previous goal.
These cascading statements show that the Moon is far from being an easy target at the moment and probably for at least a few more years. Lunar missions will remain the preserve of space agencies. The only currently active mission on the lunar surface is Chang’e 4 and its Yutu 2 rover. They continue their exploration of the Von Karman crater.
Yutu 2 has now traveled 213 meters for over six months. This longevity is much better than its predecessor on the Chang’e 3 mission. The rover suffered a temporary loss of contact during the previous lunar day. This damage has no serious consequences, so we hope that the Indian rover will experience at least as much success while waiting for Americans and Europeans to develop their own lander.