India’s space agency launched a rocket on Friday that sent a spacecraft into orbit for its planned landing at the Moon’s south pole next month – an achievement which would solidify India’s position as an international player in space exploration. The mission will deploy a six-wheeled lander/rover pair searching for water deposits; success would make India just the fourth country after America, Russia and China to land spacecraft on our moon.
Chandrayaan-3, costing over Rs 600 crore to construct, was launched by India’s Space Research Organization (ISRO) from Sriharikota Space Centre near Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh India via LVM3 M4 rocket launch vehicle on its journey towards moon. A plume of smoke and fire was seen surrounding it upon launch into space.
ISRO chief S Somanath announced that, all going according to plan, Chandrayaan-3 should touch down on the Moon at 5:47 pm local time on August 23 during lunar dawn. This mission marks India’s third attempt at landing softly on the Moon; Chandrayaan-1 launched in 2008 discovered evidence of water ice on its surface while Chandrayaan-2 crashed during landing.
India’s space agency boasts an impressive list of accomplishments, but landing on the Moon would rank among its greatest successes to date. India may have only begun participating in space activities recently compared with countries such as USA or former USSR; but its scientists have made inroads into space science with world’s second-best vaccine for covid-19 production as well as working on other life-saving projects.
Modi also noted the mission could serve as an “moment of glory” for India. He extended his congratulations to all involved and called it an important “new chapter” in its space journey.
ISRO will use this mission to showcase its indigenous technology, enabling it to work collaboratively with other nations on various missions – like NISAR spacecraft that will fly two radars to monitor minute changes on Earth’s surface and investigate water ice possibly present on permanently shadowed regions of the moon. India plans to partner with Japan’s space agency on another exploration mission known as Lunar Polar Exploration (LUPEX), which will probe for signs of water in the lunar polar regions.
Chandrayaan-3 will, like its predecessors, comprise of an orbiter, lander, and rover. The orbiter will continue its observation of the lunar surface while the lander attempts to land on it – taking approximately 14 days from orbital descent until reaching lunar surface – with subsequent exploration by its rover as it collects samples for scientific investigations.