According to the Indian space agency, Chandrayaan-3, the country’s third lunar exploration mission, seeks to build on the achievements of its forerunners.
This mission was launched 15 years after India’s first lunar mission in 2008, which found water molecules on the moon’s desolate surface and proved that the moon has an atmosphere during the day.
Chandrayaan-2, which was launched in July 2019, included an orbiter, lander, and rover component, albeit its successes were just marginal. The lander-rover pair failed in their effort at a gentle landing, resulting in a crash, whilst the orbiter continues to orbit the moon and provide scientific investigations to this day. There are several journalists waiting outside the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) office in Bengaluru (previously Bangalore) as interest in the Vikram lander’s upcoming lunar landing attempt grows.
The mood is one of joy, tempered with underlying anxiety about India’s chances of successfully carrying out the spacecraft’s lunar touchdown.
There are also curious onlookers who are taking pictures and commenting about the happenings. The mission operation center of the Indian Space Agency, which will direct the lunar landing, has provided peeks.
Before beginning its descent, Chandrayaan-3’s Vikram lander module is expected to arrive at the selected location around 17:44 Indian Standard Time (13:14 British Summer Time). As millions of Indians tune in to television and social media channels, millions of eyes will be glued to the Moon, collectively hoping for a safe landing.
On July 14, applause broke out in front of the ISRO spaceport in Andhra Pradesh as Chandrayaan-3 safely lifted off. Since then, in anticipation of the mission’s success, each stage has attracted attention around the country.
On Wednesday, the mission predominated media coverage, with launch-related hashtags dominating the social media landscape.
Chandrayaan-3, as the name suggests, is India’s third lunar expedition. The spacecraft is made up of a lander, an orbiter, and a rover. This time, the lander, which was given the name Vikram in honor of ISRO’s founder Vikram Sarabhai, is aiming for a soft touchdown on the lunar surface. A 26kg rover with the name Pragyaan,
which comes from the Sanskrit word for wisdom, is housed inside the lander.
If successful, India will stand out by landing close to the southern pole, joining the United States, the former Soviet Union, and China as the only other countries to accomplish a soft lunar landing. These three countries all landed close to the equator.
With its arrival in the mostly unknown southern polar zone of Earth’s satellite, Chandrayaan-3 hopes to make history. The projected touchdown is scheduled to occur at 13:34 British Summer Time, or 18:04 Indian Standard Time.
Scientists from the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) in Bengaluru are directing the lander’s approach to the lunar surface from the command room.
This mission takes place immediately after Russia’s Luna-25 mission, which was the country’s first lunar mission in nearly 50 years, failed when the spacecraft spun out of control.
Keep up with us as we deliver real-time information with analysis from our Delhi-based reporters and Bengaluru’s ISRO headquarters.