Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) second unmanned moon mission, Chandrayaan-2, is set to lift off in March 2018, union minister of state for atomic energy and space Jitendra Singh announced on Monday.
The launch will take place in the first quarter of 2018, mostly by the month of March, Singh said on the sidelines of the inaugural session of the 5-day Asian Conference on Remote Sensing at Delhi.
Chandrayaan-2, an advanced version of ISRO's Chandrayaan 1 mission which was launched a decade earlier, will be launched aboard GSLV Mk 2, from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.
The Chandrayaan-2 mission is planned as an unmanned mission with an orbiter, lander and rover, with a combined weight of about 3,250 kg.
ISRO wants to use Chandrayaan-2 to study lunar dust in particular. Because lunar dust is about half made up of shattered glass caused by meteorite impacts, it can do real damage to moon missions.
Lunar dust became infamous during the Apollo missions, when it snuck into the Apollo spacecraft and, according to reports, still sticks to the spacesuits astronauts wore during the Apollo mission.
As per reports, the orbiter would be launched into a lunar orbit where the lander will separate, make a soft landing on the moon and deploy the rover.
The mission is also developing a new way to land more softly on the Moon's surface. The entire project is supposed to cost just $93 million.
Chandrayaan-1 circled the Moon 3,400 times and helped confirm there was water on it, but lost contact with Earth after less than a year, in August 2009. NASA tracked it down, still aimlessly pacing around the Moon, this March.
Russia and China are also reported to be planning several trips to the Moon.
The five-day conference is being attended by over 500 delegates, including leading space scientists from around the world.
Singh said India has emerged as one of the frontline nations in the field of space technology.
ISRO chief AS Kiran Kumar who was the guest of honour at the inaugural session, outlined the various measures taken by Isro to support disaster management across the nation.