India has today commenced its audacious third mission to the moon, with an ambitious objective to become the first nation to successfully land on the largely unexplored South Pole, reports the BBC. In a bold step towards global recognition in the realm of space exploration, the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft, complete with an orbiter, lander and rover, was launched earlier today from the Sriharikota space center.
If everything goes according to plan, the lander will touch down on the moon on either August 23rd or 24th. A successful mission would etch India into the history books as only the fourth country to achieve a "soft" landing on the moon, following in the pioneering footsteps of the USA, the former USSR and China.
Building on Past Missions
India's third lunar exploration program, Chandrayaan-3, is not just a test of technology but also a testament to the nation's resolve. This venture comes a full 13 years after India's inaugural lunar mission in 2008 and seeks to learn from and build upon the experiences of previous endeavours.
The Chandrayaan-2 mission, launched in July 2019, had mixed results. While the orbiter continues to encircle and study the Moon, the lander failed to achieve a successful landing due to a fault in the braking system. Undeterred by the setback, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has poured over the mission's data and conducted simulations to preclude any such issues in the future.
A New Chapter in India's Space Odyssey
Prime Minister Narendra Modi celebrated the launch of Chandrayaan-3, praising it as the penning of a "new chapter in India's space odyssey". He commended the mission's potential to inspire every Indian, and hailed the unwavering dedication and ingenuity of the nation's scientists.
The Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft, a veritable giant weighing 3,900 kg and costing 75 million dollars, is designed with the goal of a "soft" landing on the lunar surface. The lander Vikram, weighing about 1,500 kg, harbors the rover Pragyaan in its "belly", a relatively small 26 kg unit.
Following today's launch, the spacecraft's journey to lunar orbit is expected to take between 15 to 20 days, after which scientists will begin to gradually reduce speed, allowing for a safe landing by Vikram.
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