India confirms third attempt to land at the moon's south pole for 2020

India commits to another mission to the lunar south pole, months after Chandrayaan-2 crash-landed on the moon's surface.

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Jackson Ryan was CNET's science editor, and a multiple award-winning one at that. Earlier, he'd been a scientist, but he realized he wasn't very happy sitting at a lab bench all day. Science writing, he realized, was the best job in the world -- it let him tell stories about space, the planet, climate change and the people working at the frontiers of human knowledge. He also owns a lot of ugly Christmas sweaters.
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The Indian Space Research Organization's historic mission to visit the moon's south pole ended abruptly last September, when the Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft crash-landed due to a braking error. However, the unfortunate demise of the lander and rover hasn't deterred India from attempting another soft landing in the very near future. In a press briefing Wednesday, ISRO chief Kailasavadivoo Sivan confirmed that a third lunar mission, Chandrayaan-3, has been given the go-ahead and that it could launch as early as this year.

According to a report by India Today, the Chandrayaan-3 mission will be much cheaper than Chandrayaan-2, at a total cost of 6.15 billion rupees ($86.2 million). Chandrayaan-2 racked up a 9.6 billion rupee bill. The new mission will feature a rover and lander and will attempt to land at the same location as Chandrayaan-2 -- the previously unexplored south pole, where vast water deposits have been detected by orbiting satellites, including India's Chandrayaan-1.

Jitendra Singh, minister for India's department of space, suggested that Chandrayaan-3 would launch in 2020, but Sivan noted that the mission's launch date could "spill over" into 2021. Sivan also made note of the failed Chandrayaan-2 landing, reiterating that the fine braking phase didn't occur as planned, preventing the lander from reducing its velocity and resulting in its destruction.

Chandrayaan-2 was launched on July 22, 2019, and consisted of three spacecraft: a lunar orbiter, a lunar lander and a rover. Though the lander and rover were lost during the crash landing, the orbiter remains in operation around the moon and is expected to continue surveying Earth's closest celestial neighbor for seven years.

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