The Indian Chandrayaan-3 launches to the moon

Chandrayaan-3, India’s third mission to the moon, has launched successfully – almost four years after its predecessor failed to land on the lunar surface in 2019.

On Friday, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) launched its Launch Vehicle Mark-III rocket carrying the next Chandrayaan (Sanskrit for “lunar vehicle”) from the Satish Dhawan Space Center on the southern Indian island of Sriharikota. Launch was at 2:35 p.m. IST (2:05 a.m. PDT), the target time announced last week.

“Chandrayaan-3 has begun its journey there [the] Moon,” said ISRO Chairman S. Somanath in the Mission Control Center after the successful launch of the spacecraft. “Our dear LVM-3 has already placed the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft in the exact orbit around Earth – 170 x 36,500 kilometers was its intended target orbit, and that is exactly what they are doing now. We wish the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft all the best in its continued orbit-raising maneuvers and journey there [the] moon in the coming days.”

Developed on a budget of less than US$75 million, the Chandrayaan-3 mission will include a landing, rover and propulsion module and aims to demonstrate safe landing and locomotion on the lunar surface and conduct on-site science experiences . The smooth landing of the unmanned vehicle is expected on August 23.

With a total payload mass of approximately 3,895 kilograms, the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft features an array of technologies such as laser and RF-based altimeters, speedometers, throttled liquid engines, hazard detection and avoidance systems, and a new landing gear mechanism. ISRO has taken special measures and upgraded its onboard equipment to avoid problems with a soft landing on the lunar surface. In addition, the rover underwent a series of tests and simulations to address the weaknesses of the previous system.

Unlike the last Chandrayaan, which crashed while landing on the moon due to a software bug, the orbiter in the new version has been stripped of secondary payloads to focus on its main mission: moving the lander and rover toward a hundred-kilometer lunar orbit bring. The lander, on the other hand, has received a number of changes to handle higher landing speeds. The space agency has also added solar power and a bi-fuel propulsion system with more fuel to handle fluctuations in fuel levels and other uncertainties. There are also software side improvements with updated control and routing algorithms and support for managing multiple paths to the surface.

The Chandrayaan mission aims to better understand the moon by enabling scientific experiments on its chemical and natural elements, soil and water. This would eventually help scientists understand how the material that makes up the lunar surface can be harnessed to meet our growing energy needs.

With Chandrayaan-3, India aims to become the fourth country to land softly on the moon, after the former Soviet Union, the United States and China, and the first country to have its locally produced vehicle land on the South Pole.

“It is indeed a moment of glory for India and a moment of destiny for all of us here in Sriharikota who are part of history,” Jitendra Singh, India’s Minister of State for Space and Atomic Energy, said in his address to ISRO scientists Mission start.

Space has become a key interest for India in recent years. The South Asian country has made remarkable strides in space exploration, with over a hundred space startups developing solutions ranging from launch vehicles to satellites to hyperspectral Earth imaging. New Delhi also recently adopted a Space Policy to facilitate collaboration between private actors and government agencies.

In addition to Chandrayaan, ISRO has long been planning its first manned space mission, Gaganyaan. The space agency is also working on a mission called Aditya L1 to explore the sun. It is also working closely with NASA to launch a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) observatory in 2024 that will map the entire planet in just 12 days and provide consistent data for analyzing changes in Earth’s ecosystems , ice mass, vegetation biomass, etc. Sea level and natural disasters and dangers.

Last month, India signed NASA’s Artemis Accords to collaborate with program participating nations on space exploration. NASA also agreed to train Indian astronauts at Houston’s Johnson Space Center and send them to the International Space Station next year.

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