Chandrayaan-3: India begins historic mission to land spacecraft on Moon

Indian Space Research Agency/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Chandrayaan-3 prepares for launch on July 13, 2023 from Sriharikota, India.


India The successful launch of its Chandrayaan-3 mission on Friday made it the fourth country in its bid to perform a controlled landing on the moon.

Chandrayaan, which means “lunar vehicle” in Sanskrit, was launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, southern Andhra Pradesh, at 2:30 p.m. local time (5 a.m. ET).

Crowds packed the space center to witness the history-making launch, and more than 1 million people tuned in to watch on YouTube.

This is India’s second attempt at a soft landing after the previous attempt with Chandrayaan-2 in 2019. failure. Its first lunar probe, Chandrayaan-1, orbited the moon and then made an intentional landing on the lunar surface in 2008.

Developed by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), Chandrayaan-3 consists of a lander, a propulsion module and a rover. Its mission is to land safely on the lunar surface, collect data, and conduct a series of scientific experiments to learn more about the moon’s composition.

Only three countries – USA, Russia and China – have achieved the complicated feat of soft-landing a spacecraft on the lunar surface.

Indian engineers have been working on the launch for years. They aim to land Chandrayaan-3 nearby The challenging terrain of the Moon’s unexplored South Pole.

Chandrayaan-1, India’s first lunar mission, discovered water molecules on the lunar surface. Eleven years later, Chandrayaan-2 Entered successfully lunar orbit but its rover crashed on the lunar surface. It was also to explore the South Pole of the Moon.

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At the time, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised the engineers behind the mission, pledging to continue working on India’s space program and ambitions despite the failure.

Shortly before Friday’s launch, Modi said, “This day will always be engraved in golden letters as far as India’s space industry is concerned.”

“This remarkable mission will carry the hopes and dreams of our nation,” he said in a Twitter post.

India has spent around $75 million on its Chandrayaan-3 programme.

Modi said the rocket would travel 300,000 kilometers (186,411 miles) and reach the moon “in the coming weeks”.

India’s space program dates back six decades, when it was a newly independent republic and a deeply impoverished country reeling from a bloody partition.

When it launched its first rocket in 1963, the country was no match for the ambitions of the United States and the former Soviet Union, which were ahead of the space race.

Now, India is the world’s most populous country and its fifth largest economy. It has a growing young population and is a growing center of innovation and technology.

India’s space ambitions are playing out under Modi.

For a leader who came to power in 2014 on a ticket of nationalism and futuristic greatness, India’s space program is a symbol of the country’s rising prominence on the world stage.

In 2014, India became the first Asian country to reach Mars when it launched the Mangalyaan spacecraft into Red Planet orbit for $74 million — less than the $100 million Hollywood spent to make the space thriller “Gravity.”

Three years later, India launched 104 satellites in a single mission.

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In 2019, Modi announced in a rare televised address that India had shot down one of its own satellites in what it said was an anti-satellite test, becoming one of only four countries to do so.

In the same year, former ISRO chief Kailashavadivu Sivan said that India plans to have an independent space station by 2030. Currently, there are only space stations for the International Space Station (a multi-nation joint project) and crewed space stations. Tiangong Space Station, China.

Rapid growth and innovation has made space technology one of India’s hottest sectors for investors — and world leaders seem to have taken notice.

When Modi met US President Joe Biden on a state visit to Washington last month, the White House said the two leaders sought greater cooperation in the space economy.

India’s space ambitions do not stop at the Moon or Mars. ISRO has also proposed to send an orbiter to Venus.

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