India’s ambitious lunar endeavor, Chandrayaan-3, marked a monumental milestone as it successfully landed on the lunar south pole at 6:04 pm on Wednesday. This historic achievement propels India into an elite group of nations and firmly establishes it as the first to achieve a soft landing on this uncharted lunar terrain.
This achievement, a testament to India’s burgeoning space capabilities, was realized through the combined efforts of the lander (Vikram) and the 26 kg rover (Pragyan). The duo executed a gentle landing near the Moon’s south polar region, a feat accomplished less than a week after a Russian lander’s unfortunate crash.
With this successful endeavor on only its second attempt in four years, India joins an exclusive league of nations capable of soft-landing on the lunar surface. This distinguished group includes the United States, China, and the former Soviet Union.
Chandrayaan-3, a follow-on mission to its predecessor Chandrayaan-2, embarks on a journey to showcase safe and precise soft-landing techniques on the lunar surface. The mission also encompasses lunar roving and conducting in-situ scientific experiments.
This accomplishment comes after the previous setback faced by Chandrayaan-2, which encountered a failed lunar phase when its lander ‘Vikram’ experienced an anomaly in its braking system, leading to a crash on September 7, 2019. The maiden mission of Chandrayaan was launched in 2008.
With a budget of INR 600 crore, the Chandrayaan-3 mission commenced its journey on July 14 aboard the Launch Vehicle Mark-III (LVM-3) rocket. The mission embarked on a 41-day voyage, culminating in a successful landing near the lunar south pole.
This achievement follows shortly after the unfortunate outcome of Russia’s Luna-25 spacecraft, which spun out of control and crashed into the Moon.
The lander, along with its six-wheeled rover (total mass of 1,752 kg), is designed to operate for one lunar daylight period, equivalent to approximately 14 Earth days. The four-legged lander is equipped with an array of sensors, including accelerometers, altimeters, Doppler velocimeters, inclinometers, touchdown sensors, and a suite of hazard avoidance and positional knowledge cameras.
The lander accommodates the rover within a compartment featuring a deployment ramp, facilitating its release onto the lunar surface.