Chandrayan-3 Successfully Enters Moon’s Orbit

Chandrayan-3, India’s third unmanned lunar mission, successfully landed on the lunar orbit after 22 days of its launch from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Srihorikota, Andhra Pradesh. The rover is on a 41-day challenging mission to land on the lunar South Pole which is still a virgin area. If the mission is successful, India will be the first country to achieve the feat.

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Message from Space

“I’m feeling lunar gravity”, Chandrayan-3 sent a message to ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) following the precise manoeuvre that was required to bring the rover closer to the moon. Kudos to the ISRO scientists for performing such a challenging task with amazing precision! The injection to plant Chandrayan-3 into lunar orbit created a milestone in ISRO’s 600-crore mission to explore moon’s South Pole.

Chandrayan-3 has already travelled two-thirds of the distance to reach the moon since its spectacular and successful launch on July 14. The next 18 days are going to be more challenging for the space scientists in the Bangalore facility. ISRO shared a message from the spacecraft that it sent to the space centre and it reads, “MOX, ISTRAC, this is Chandrayaan-3. I am feeling lunar gravity”.

The space agency has announced the spacecraft’s insertion into the lunar orbit while adding, “A retro-burning at the Perilune was commanded from the Mission Operations Complex (MOX), ISTRAC (ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network), Bengaluru. ISRO has informed that Perilune is Chandrayan-3’s closest point to the lunar surface.

What Next?

The next orbit operation-reduction is scheduled to be at 11 PM on Sunday, according to a tweet by ISRO.

Sunday manoeuvre will be followed by three more complex operations till August 17 after which, Vikram, the landing module carrying Pragyan, the rover, in its womb will break itself free from the Propulsion Module. Next, deorbiting operations will be performed on the lander before the spacecraft finally descends on the moon.

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Immediately after Chandrayan-3 was launched piggybacking on LVM3-M4 rocket, ISRO chairman S Somanath told to the press that if everything goes as planned, the spacecraft will make a soft landing on the moon’s surface at 5.47 PM on August 23.

Over five moves in the last three weeks since its launch, ISRO scientists have lifted the spacecraft into orbits farther away from the Earth.

ISRO performed a key manoeuvre on August 1, called a slingshot move, to move the craft away from Earth’s orbit towards the moon. This trans-lunar injection helped the craft to escape Earth’s gravity and start following a path to get closer to the moon.

Once it reaches the vicinity of the moon, Chandrayan-3 will require a push to enter the moon’s gravity. Hence, further manoeuvring operations will be carried out to reduce the spacecraft’s orbit to a 100×100 km circular one.

Chandrayan-3 is ISRO’s second attempt in four years after robotic lunar rover Chandrayan-2 failed to perform a soft landing on the moon’s South Pole. If successful, India will join the league of the US, China and the erstwhile Soviet Union that have mastered the complex soft-landing technology.  

If successful, India will join the league of the US, China and erstwhile Soviet Union that have mastered the complex soft-landing technology.