India’s third moon mission, Chandrayaan-3, was successfully launched onboard a Launch Vehicle Mark-3 (LVM-3) rocket from the second launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota at 2.35 pm on July 14.
This is India’s second attempt at soft-landing robotic instruments on the lunar surface after the previous attempt, Chandrayaan-2, failed in 2019.
Thus far, only three countries, the U.S., Russia and China, have successfully soft-landed on the moon.
Speaking to reporters after the successful launch, ISRO Chairman S. Somanath said the next 42 days are crucial. “As per the nominal programme, we will have five earth-bound manoeuvres [that] will end on July 31. After that we have the trans-lunar insertion, [which] will take place on August 1. After that, it will be captured [by the] moon.This will be followed by the separation of the propulsion module and the lander module on August 17. “The landing is currently planned on August 23 at 5.47 pm IST, if everything goes as per plan,” he added.
New chapter: Modi
Hailing the launch, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: “Chandrayaan-3 scripts a new chapter in India’s space odyssey. It soars high, elevating the dreams and ambitions of every Indian... This momentous achievement is a testament to our scientists’ relentless dedication. I salute their spirit and ingenuity!”
Minister of State Jitendra Singh, who was present at the launch, said, “It is indeed a moment of glory for India. Thank you team ISRO for making India proud... Today is also a day of vindication: vindication of the dream Vikram Sarabhai [had] six decades ago.”
Around 16 minutes after the LVM-3 lifted off, the spacecraft separated from the rocket. It was an integrated module comprising the propulsion module, the lander module, and the rover. It entered into an elliptic parking orbit (EPO). This orbit’s closest approach to earth was around 170 km and farthest, at 36,500 km.
The Chandrayaan-3 consists of an indigenous propulsion module (PM), lander module (LM). The mission’s objective is to develop and demonstrating new technologies required for inter-planetary missions.
The propulsion module will carry the lander (containing the rover) from the EPO around earth to a circular orbit around the moon, at an altitude of 100 km. This module also carries instrument called ‘Spectro-polarimetry of Habitable Planetary Earth’ (SHAPE), to study spectral emissions coming from earth.
According to ISRO, the lander can soft-land at a specified lunar site and deploy the rover. The rover will perform in-situ chemical studies of the lunar surface as it moves around. The lander also has scientific instruments to study the lunar surface and subsurface.
The propulsion module will execute a series of manoeuvres over the next month to sling itself towards the moon and be caught there by the moon’s gravity. Once it has been captured into a lunar orbit, the lander will detach itself and attempt to soft-land on the moon’s surface.
The Chandrayaan-3 mission’s objective is to develop and demonstrate new technologies required for inter-planetary missions.
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