New Delhi: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has announced that it has received the go-ahead from the Government of India for another joint moon mission with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). ISRO said the Space Commission, India's apex space policy body, had on Saturday provided it the clearance to partner with JPL on a project, named 'Moon Rise', which could be launched by NASA.
The programme, according to ISRO chairman, K Radhakrishnan, would take place under NASA's New Frontiers Programme, which that American space body had announced in 2009. So far, NASA has invited only proposals, and ISRO's is one such, under this programme. At some point it will finalise the proposals it would actually like to undertake under the auspices of this programme.
Under the agreement between the two bodies, ISRO will supply a satellite to orbit the moon and transmit to earth data from a rover that JPL will land on the lunar surface. Under the project, JPL plans to drop a robotic lander into a basin at the moon's South Pole to return lunar rocks back to Earth for study. If the mission, if selected, it will be launched in 2016.
According to ISRO chairman, K Radhakrishnan, the proposal results from the India-US cooperation agreement announced during the visit of president Barack Obama to India last year. He said, India's contribution to the project could be worth as much as $150 million.
Meanwhile, Space Commission has set in motion the process for a top-level restructuring of Antrix Corporation, ISRO's commercial arm, now embroiled in a messy controversy over its role in the controversial S Band spectrum deal with Devas Multimedia, a private firm.
At a meeting chaired by Radhakrishnan, the Space Commission, was apprised of actions undertaken to terminate the deal.