India eyeing collaboration with JPL in 2016 NASA Lunar Mission

Sriharikota: India could be part of the 2016 NASA Lunar Mission with its space agency ISRO mulling a collaboration with the US-based Jet Propulsion Laboratory on study of farther side of the moon.

"We are in the planning phase, for a joint mission with Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) of the NASA. The mission involves getting samples from the moon and JPL wanted ISRO to get the communication module," ISRO Chairman K Radhakrishnan told reporters here.

Speaking after the successful launch of Resourcesat-2 from the spaceport here, he said, "ISRO is one of the three candidates NASA could be considering for the 2016 mission."

JPL, which has 20 spacecraft and nine instruments conducting active missions being important parts of NASA`s programme of exploration of the solar system and the universe beyond, wanted samples from the farther side of moon which has larger craters.

On forthcoming launches, he said ISRO was planning a series of communication and remote sensing satellites starting from next month while activities regarding Chandrayaan-II, the country`s next Lunar mission, were progressing.

Chandrayaan-II was tentatively scheduled for a 2013-14 launch and its Rover and Orbiter would be from ISRO while the Lander would come from Russia.

The mission, which would also have a few scientific instruments, would be launched from a GSLV platform, he said.

India would launch its communication satellite GSAT8 next month from French Guyana. It would be followed up with another communication satellite on a PSLV later.

"We are also planning to launch a remote sensing satellite on the more challenging and major area of microwave remote sensing," he said.

P S Veeraraghavan, Director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, said India was also planning a joint venture with France for megha-tropiques satellite for atmospheric studies.

On the failure of India`s much-touted indigenous cryogenic stage in GSLV F-06 in December last, he said the problem occurred after an inadvertent separation of shroud.

ISRO was now re-working on designs specifications and planning for a test flight by the end first half of 2012.

Some test connected with booster turbo pumps in this regard were successfully conducted yesterday, S Ramakrishnan, Director, ISRO`s Liquid Propulsion Systems centre, said.

Responding to a query on India`s manned Moon mission, Narayanamoorty, a senior scientist associated with the project, said works were on space suit design and crew module development and a proposal had been sent to the government.

On today`s launch, he said Resourcsat-2 will be India`s "mainstay" in remote sensing as well as commercial applications.