Bangalore: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), which has lined up a series of tests this year before it launches Chandrayaan-3 — expected only in 2023 — completed a key test on the lander on Sunday. According to a senior ISRO official overseeing the mission, Chandrayaan-3 launch is expected only in 2023 even as “the project is making significant progress with tests yielding good results reports Times of India.

“Things are going well and all tests have yielded good results. On Sunday night we performed a hanging condition simulation to test low-gravity condition, engine firing and camera. All parameters were as planned. However, there are still a lot of tests to be carried out and the mission is only expected next year,” the official said, refraining from spelling out the specifics owing to the ongoing Parliament session.

As first reported by TOI, Chandrayaan-3, unlike Chandrayaan-2 will not be carrying an orbiter as part of the mission — it’ll only have a propulsion module (PM) carrying the lander and rover until separation. While the PM will not carry any primary payload, another official said: “It will have equipment that’ll be used to communicate with the lander and the ground station. The PM will be used to relay information.”

ISRO, which failed to soft-land Vikram (Chandrayaan-2 lander) which was carrying Pragyan (Rover) in September 2019, is carrying out exhaustive tests for Chandrayaan-3. “Failure is not an option this time. The chairman has made it very clear that we need to test and retest until we are sure of everything on ground before moving ahead for launch preparations,” a scientist said.

SSLV First Mission

The space agency is also awaiting clearance for the launch of the first Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV), a technology demonstrator mission of which is expected in the coming weeks. While ISRO is confident of an August launch, the final date, an official said, “was yet to be decided”. “We are looking at August, but it may not happen in the first few days.”

ISRO has done extensive testing of the SSLV, with the key ground testing of the newly developed solid booster stage (SS1) also having been completed. This test was considered the last major test before the tech-demonstrator mission.

The SSLV will have more than one technology demonstrator mission before it can be used as a mainstream launcher. Once that is achieved, Space PSU NewSpace India Limited (NSIL) is also looking at utilising the rocket for commercial missions.