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India will launch a lunar mission on July 15, attempting to become the fourth country to land on the moon after the former Soviet Union, US and China to cement its place among the world’s space-faring nations.
The Chandrayaan-2 mission aims to deliver a rover to an elevated plane close to the uncharted lunar South Pole on 6 or 7 September and investigate the surface for signs of water and potentially new sources of abundant energy. It’s one step in an envisioned progression that includes putting a space station in orbit and — eventually — landing a crew on the moon.
"We will launch our second moon mission (Chandrayaan-2) on July 15 at 02:15 a.m., to land by September 6 or7 near the lunar south pole, where no one went so far", said Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman K Sivan.
Chandrayaan, which means “moon vehicle” in Sanskrit, exemplifies the resurgence of international interest in space. The US, China and private corporations are among those racing to explore everything from resource mining to extraterrestrial colonies on the moon and even Mars.
ISRO’s next priority is the $1.4 billion Gaganyaan mission,  which aims to put three Indian “gaganauts” — at least one of which will be a woman — into orbit.