Chennai: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Russia''''s Federal
Space Agency (Roskosmos) have signed an agreement on joint lunar research and exploration. G Madhavan Nair, chairman, ISRO, and A Perminov, director, Roskosmos, signed the agreement in Moscow on 12 November 2007 during the visit of prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh, to Russia.
This cooperation envisages Chandrayaan-2, a joint lunar mission involving a lunar orbiting spacecraft and a lander / rover on the moon''''s surface.
ISRO will have the prime responsibility for the orbiter and Roskosmos will be responsible for the lander / rover. A few scientific instruments from other space agencies may also be accommodated on these systems.
Chandrayaan-2 will be launched on India''''s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) around 2011-12 time frame. This agreement is a major milestone in the long-standing cooperation between India and Russia in the area of outer space.
In the meantime, sources say that the preparation for launching India''''s first unmanned mission to moon Chandrayaan-1 in April 2008 are progressing as scheduled. The spacecraft is in the final stages of integration and testing, and will be launched onboard India''''s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).
This mission features a spacecraft orbiting around the Moon for two years at an altitude of 100km mapping the topography and the mineralogical content of the lunar surface.
Chandrayaan-1 will also have a moon impact probe payload for demonstrating the technology needed towards accurate landing on the moon''''s surface. Chandrayaan-2 is the next logical step for more detailed and in situ study of the moon.