After the success of India's first unmanned moon mission ISRO has now proposed its second odyssey to the moon, Chandrayaan-II will be launched by the end of next year or early 2010. Initially, the plans of Chandrayaan-II was that it would be launched by the end of 2010 or early 2011. But the success of Chandrayaan-I has pre-poned the launch of Chandrayaan-II.
Chandrayaan-II is an Indo-Russian joint venture. Russian federal space agency have already signed a pact with ISRO. "One of the two GSLV missions next year will carry Chandrayaan-II", says ISRO Chairman Mr. G. Madhavan Nair.
Chandrayaan-II would feature a lander and a rover for a soft land on moon. The rover will be designed by Russia’s federal space agency. India may be the second country to land a rover on the moon after USA during NASA's Apollo missions.
Mr. Nair expects more accomodating payloads (experiments) from other space agencies for the second odyssey just as in Chandrayaan-I. Chandrayaan-I carried 11 payloads of which 5 are Indian, 3 are from the European Space Agency, 2 from the NASA and one from Bulgaria.
"Even though China's and Japan's moon satellite (which are still in Moon's orbit) took high resolution pictures of the moon, they aren't as comprehensive as Chandrayaan-I", says former NASA associate administrator Scott Pace. The budget of Chandrayaan-I is also considerably cheaper than that of Japan or China.
This also strenghtens the space race in Asia. Japan, China and now India have successfully launched moon missions. China is leading in the race ever since they put taikonauts (Chinese Astronauts) in space in 2003 and had their first space walk last month. Even though this is India's first space expedition beyond Earth's orbit India is quickly catching up with China. India might even successfully land a rover and also humans on the moon's surface even before China.