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Will India land on the Moon by August 1, 2018?


While most attention regard "budget" spaceflight has been focused on Elon Musk and other commercial spacecraft enterprises, with their re-use technologies, there is another player in the "low"-cost space race: India.

By keeping their engineering teams and supply chain local to India and taking advantage of inexpensive labor and supplies, India has launched successful missions to the Moon and Mars at a small fraction of the cost of US launches by NASA, at least as computed in dollars (with no purchasing-price-parity adjustment applied.)

Their next mission, Chandrayaan-2 is a landing on the Moon, slated for April. Per Wikipedia,

Chandrayaan 2 is scheduled to launch in April 2018 and will attempt to soft land a lander and rover in a high plain between two craters, Manzinus C and Simpelius N, at a latitude of about 70° south. If successful, Chandrayaan-2 will be the first-ever mission to land a rover near the lunar south pole.

The mission will be carried by the GSLV2 system; this rocket has made its last four launched successfully, though there is a mixed record before that (including a GSLV1).

This lunar mission is not just interesting as a (potential) triumph of Indian engineering, but also at some level on the world spacecraft stage, as the mission is coming in at a cost of apparently $165M total; this probably makes it competitive even with SpaceX's re-used rockets.

Will it succeed?

Resolution is positive if a spacecraft launched by India lands on the Moon by August 1, 2018 (giving some room for delays). The lander and rover need not be operational upon landing, and can even crash: we require just that something of 10 kg or more make it onto the surface.

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