The Propulsion Module (PM) of the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft, which was initially intended for lunar operations, was successfully returned to Earth's orbit by ISRO after exceeding its lunar mission objectives, demonstrating India's ability to not only launch objects to the Moon but also bring them back.
In a significant development, the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter which was already fixed around the moon established a two-way connection with the lander module of Chandrayaan-3 on Monday.
“‘Welcome, buddy!’ Ch-2 orbiter formally welcomed Ch-3 LM (lander module). Two-way communication between the two is established. MOX (Mission Operations Complex) has now more routes to reach the LM,” ISRO posted on X, formerly Twitter.
Chandrayaan-3 is set to land on the moon on August 23, 2023, around 18:04 IST.
Live actions will be available on the ISRO website, its YouTube channel, Facebook, and public broadcaster DD National TV from 17:27 IST on Aug 23, 2023.
Ahead of the much-awaited soft landing of Chandrayaan-3 on the south pole of the Moon, former director of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and in-charge of the previous lunar mission ‘Chandrayaan-2’, K Sivan on Monday said that the mission will be a “grand success”.
“It’s a very anxious moment…I’m sure that this time it will be a grand success,” Sivan said while speaking to ANI.
“We have our own system and we will be establishing a soft landing without any problem. But it is a complex process,” he said while responding to a question asked whether there would be any impact after the failure of Russia’s Luna-25 mission. Russia’s moon mission failed after its Luna-25 spacecraft spun out of control and smashed into the moon on Sunday.
He said that corrective measures have been taken after going through data generated by the Chandrayaan-2 mission. When asked if those additional systems too were indigenous, Sivan said, “Everything is indigenous.”
Earlier today, ISRO released images of the lunar far side area captured by the Lander Hazard Detection and Avoidance Camera (LHDAC). This camera assists in locating a safe landing area — without boulders or deep trenches — during the descent.
Notably, the ‘Vikram’ lander module of the spacecraft successfully separated from the propulsion module recently, and subsequently underwent crucial deboosting manoeuvres and descended to a slightly lower orbit. The Chandrayaan-3 mission’s lander is named after Vikram Sarabhai (1919–1971), who is widely regarded as the father of the Indian space programme.
A GSLV Mark 3 (LVM 3) heavy-lift launch vehicle was used for the launch of the spacecraft that was placed in the lunar orbit on August 5 and since then it has been through a series of orbital manoeuvres been lowered closer to the moon’s surface.
It has been a month and seven days since the Indian Space Research Organisation launched the Chandrayaan-3 mission on July 14. The spacecraft was launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Andhra Pradesh’s Sriharikota.
The stated objectives of Chandrayaan-3, India’s third lunar mission, are safe and soft landing, rover roving on the moon’s surface, and in-situ scientific experiments.
The approved cost of Chandrayaan-3 is Rs 250 crores (excluding launch vehicle cost).
Chandrayaan-3’s development phase commenced in January 2020 with the launch planned sometime in 2021. However, the Covid-19 pandemic brought an unforeseen delay to the mission’s progress.
The key scientific outcomes from Chandrayaan-2 include the first-ever global map for lunar sodium, enhancing knowledge on crater size distribution, unambiguous detection of lunar surface water ice with IIRS instrument and more.
Moon serves as a repository of the Earth’s past and a successful lunar mission by India will help enhance life on Earth while also enabling it to explore the rest of the solar system and beyond.