Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh – In a momentous event that carries the hopes of an entire nation, India’s Chandrayaan-3 lifted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota. This ambitious mission, if successful, will establish India as the fourth country to achieve a controlled landing on the moon, following in the footsteps of Russia, the United States, and China.
Perched atop the mighty Mark 3 heavy-lift launch vehicle, fondly referred to as the Bahubali rocket, is the moon lander named Vikram. Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed this launch as a “new chapter” in India’s space odyssey, acknowledging the profound impact it would have on the dreams and ambitions of every Indian.
Chandrayaan-3’s journey from Earth to the moon is estimated to take approximately a month, with the anticipated landing scheduled for August 23. Once it touches down, Vikram will operate for one lunar day, which is equivalent to approximately 29 Earth days.
Comprising of three crucial components – a lander, a rover, and a propulsion model – Chandrayaan-3 will leverage the existing Orbiter from its predecessor, Chandrayaan-2, which still remains in the lunar atmosphere.
In a pioneering move, India’s Vikram lander will make its descent towards the South Pole of the moon, a region where the presence of water molecules was first detected during India’s inaugural moon mission in 2008, causing ripples of astonishment across the globe. Vikram is designed to execute a secure, soft landing, after which it will release its companion, the rover Pragyan. This rover will traverse the moon’s surface during a lunar day, conducting a series of scientific experiments.
This latest iteration of Chandrayaan comes four years after the setback of the previous attempt, where ground control lost contact with the spacecraft moments before landing. Reflecting on the lessons learned, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has incorporated a multitude of changes to mitigate the chances of failure this time.
ISRO Chief S Somnath acknowledged that the main issue during the Chandrayaan-2 mission was the occurrence of off-nominal conditions within the system, which the spacecraft was unable to handle for a safe landing. Determined to rectify these shortcomings, ISRO has meticulously addressed the concerns and made necessary modifications for Chandrayaan-3.
As India embarks on this ambitious endeavor, the nation holds its breath in anticipation of a successful mission that will not only place it among the elite spacefaring nations but also push the boundaries of scientific knowledge. Chandrayaan-3, with its pioneering landing site and improved capabilities, promises to script a new chapter in India’s remarkable space odyssey, raising the aspirations of a proud and visionary nation.