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Chandrayaan-3: India Launches Third Moon Mission Successfully

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India has launched its third mission to the Moon, Chandrayaan-3, with the goal of being the first to set foot near its lesser known South Pole.

At 14:35 on Friday (13:05 MUT), the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft—which included an orbiter, lander, and rover—launched from Sriharikota. On August 23–24, the lander is scheduled to arrive at the Moon.

If successful, India will join the United States, the former Soviet Union, and China, chronologically, as the only other nation to make a soft landing on the moon.

Thousands of spectators gathered in the viewer’s gallery to see the launch, and observers hailed the rocket’s “majestic” “soaring in the sky” display. Both the onlookers and the scientists cheered and applauded enthusiastically when the liftoff took place.

Chief of Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) Sreedhara Panicker Somanath said, “Chandrayaan-3 has begun its journey towards the Moon.” The statement was made just after the liftoff. He continued, “Our launch vehicle has put the Chandrayaan on the precise orbit around the Earth.” Isro tweeted that “the health of the spacecraft is normal”.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Chandrayaan-3 had “scripted 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!” he wrote on Twitter.

Chandrayaan-3 to continue previous missions

Chandrayaan-3, the third mission under India’s moon mission, is anticipated to build on the accomplishments of the earlier two.

According to Mylswamy Annadurai, project director of Chandrayaan-1, Chandrayaan-3 is launched after the nation’s first Moon mission in 2008, which conducted “the first and most detailed search for water on the lunar surface and established the Moon has an atmosphere during daytime.”

The July 2019 launch of Chandrayaan-2, which also included an orbiter, a lander, and a rover, was only partially successful. Even now, the orbiter is still circling and studying the Moon, but the lander-rover crashed upon touchdown since it was unable to make a soft landing. Mr. Annadurai cited “a last-minute glitch in the braking system” as the cause.

According to Somanath, in order to correct the bugs, they meticulously examined the data from the previous mistake and ran simulation tests.

With the “same goals” as Chandrayaan-2, Chandrayaan-3 weighs 3,900kg and cost 6.1 billion rupees ($75 million). The goals are to achieve a gentle landing on the Moon’s surface, he continued.

The 26kg rover, named Pragyaan, which is Sanskrit for “wisdom,” is carried inside the lander, which is named Vikram after the founder of Isro and weighs roughly 1,500kg.

The spacecraft will enter the Moon’s orbit between 15 and 20 days after lifting off on Friday. Over the following three weeks, scientists will start slowing down the rocket to a speed that will enable Vikram to land gently.

If all goes according to plan, the six-wheeled rover will then eject and wander around the Moon’s surface, gathering important information and photographs that will be transmitted back to Earth for study.

“The rover is carrying five instruments which will focus on finding out about the physical characteristics of the surface of the Moon, the atmosphere close to the surface and the tectonic activity to study what goes on below the surface. I’m hoping we’ll find something new,” Somanath told Mirror Now, an Indian TV news channel.

There is a chance that there is water in locations that are continually shadowed because the south pole of the Moon is still mostly unexplored and its darkened surface area is significantly larger than that of the north pole. In 2008, water was found for the first time on the Moon by Chandrayaan-1 close to the South Pole.

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