on Friday successfully launched the
in its fourth operational mission and put the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft into the intended orbit.
The launch vehicle’s smooth performance — it placed the spacecraft in the precise orbit of 36,500km as planned — has added to Isro’s confidence, which has spent nearly four years planning its third lunar mission.
“Congratulations India. Chandrayaan-3, in its precise orbit, has begun its journey to the Moon. Health of the spacecraft is normal,” Isro chief S Somnath said, adding: “Let us wish all the best for the
craft to make its further orbit raising manoeuvres and travel towards the moon in the coming days.”
Mission director Mohan Kumar and the Isro chairman reiterated how the LVM3 has grown to become Isro’s most reliable heavy-lift rocket, while
Sarabhai Space Centre (VSCC) director S Unnikrishnan Nair, said: “Launching three LVM-3 rockets in one year is an herculean task and the Isro team has achieved that. Given LVM-3’s success rate it is the ideal vehicle for Gaganyaan, and a lot of improvements are being carried out.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted his congratulations and saluted the ingenuity of the scientists.
“Chandrayaan-3 scripts a new chapter in India’s space odyssey. It soars high, elevating the dreams and ambitions of a every Indian. This momentous achievement is a testament to our scientists’ relentless dedication. I salute their spirit and ingenuity!,” tweeted the PM.
Chandrayaan-3, India’s third lunar mission and the country’s second attempt at soft-landing on Moon, is a follow-on mission to Chandrayaan-2, which failed to soft-land in September 2019.
ISRO launches Chandrayaan-3; Will carry dreams of nation, says PM Modi
If all goes as per plan, the Chandrayaan-3 lander, Vikram, should touch down on the lunar surface at around 5.47pm on August 23, after 40 days of journey covering more than 3.8-lakh-km.
The landing time is estimated as on Thursday (July 13) for nominal conditions. And the first step in that direction will begin with the launch of LVM3 at 2.35pm Friday, the countdown for which began Thursday.
Istrac’s Bengaluru centre will take control of the satellite to perform multiple Earth-bound manoeuvres. As per the initial plan, there will be five such manoeuvres to be carried out on different days until July 31, and at the end of the last Earth-bound operation, the spacecraft is expected to attain an apogee (farthest point from Earth) of around 1-lakh-km.
From here, the journey towards Moon — called trans-lunar insertion phase — will begin, and the spacecraft is expected to capture the lunar orbit 5.5 days later.
After lunar orbit insertion, Isro will perform a series of manoeuvres to take the craft to a circular orbit of 100km where the lander module will separate, following which its height is further to take it to an elliptical orbit with the closest point to Moon being around 30km. From here, the lander will land and the rover will later roll out.
“Unlike Chandrayaan-2, when the landing was scheduled at such a time locally that it could be tracked through the Madrid (JPL) ground station. This time we’ll do it when tracking is possible from the Istrac Bengaluru centre. As of today (Jul 13), the landing should be complete by 5.47pm on August 23. This may change based on how the whole process from the launch to reaching to Moon goes,” a senior scientist explained.
While eight Chandrayaan-2 payloads have been sending remote-sensing data since 2019, Chandrayaan-3 will add seven more scientific instruments — one of which will go around Moon and six will be on Moon.
What They’ll Do?
Although the initial plan for the propulsion module was restricted to transporting Vikram and Pragyan to a lunar orbit, Isro later added one payload that will “look at Earth from Moon to study its habitable planet-like features and use this information to explore exoplanets in the future”. Exoplanets are planets that orbit a star (other than Sun) and have been of great interest to astronomers looking for signatures of life, in the recent past.
Other than this, Vikram carries four payloads of which one will study moonquakes, the second will study how Moon’s surface allows heat to flow through it, the third will understand the plasma environment, while the fourth will help measure the distance between Earth and Moon accurately.
The two payloads on Pragyan will study the composition of Moon’s surface using X Ray and laser, respectively. Isro has selected the region near the south pole for landing as it is of great interest given its many permanently shadowed craters that have the potential of holding water molecules. It’s noteworthy that it was India’s Chandrayaan-1 that first conclusively discovered presence of water on Moon.