Preparations for Chandrayaan-2, the second lunar exploration mission of the country, is progressing well and is expected to be ready for launch by 2017, Dr. Anil Bhardwaj, Director, Space Physics Laboratory, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), has said. Delivering the Technology Day address as part of the State-level inauguration of the National Technology Day celebrations at the Malabar Palace here, Dr. Bhardwaj said that the ambitious mission involving complex technologies comprised releasing of an orbiter, a lander and a rover. “This will also be the first-ever soft landing (landing which does not result in the destruction of the payload vehicle) by any Indian spacecraft on an astronomical body,” he said. The lander, he said, was planned to touch down in the polar region of the moon, which would also be the first such attempt by any nation. He showed the video footage of a replica of the rover moving on a simulated lunar surface at the ISRO laboratory. He said that the ambitious project would be another landmark in the history of the country’s space ventures. Stating that the first-ever solar orbiter mission of the country Aditya – L 1, to study the solar corona, would also be ready for launch by the end of 2017 or early 2018, Dr. Bhardwaj said that this would be the maiden attempt by the nation to reach the Lagrangian point 1 (L1) between the Earth and Sun. The Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) which was successfully launched by the country in September last year was still going strong after six months and had fuel for a few more years. “We expect the orbiter to serve at least for one more year surmounting the celestial challenges,” he said. Nearly 150 participants, including students, scientists, and research scholars, attended the programme, organised jointly by the Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment (KSCSTE) and the Centre for Water Resources Development and Management (CWRDM).