India’s first attempt to land a robotic spacecraft on the lunar surface three years ago ended in a crash and crater. Now ready to try again.
The mission, known as Chandrayaan-3, comes amid renewed interest in exploring the moon, but in the past decade, China has been the only country to successfully land a spacecraft there. That may change soon. Chandrayaan-3 will be the first of six missions to successfully land on the moon in the coming months.
When is the launch and how do I watch it?
Launch is scheduled for Friday, July 14 at 5:05 a.m. ET (2:35 p.m. local time). The Indian Space Research Organization – India’s counterpart to NASA – will begin broadcasting the flight’s broadcast on its YouTube channel 4:30 a.m. or watch in the video player embedded above.
Less than 20 minutes before the scheduled liftoff, the mission director confirmed that the weather was favorable for launch, and the rocket and spacecraft were ready to fly as planned.
What is Chandrayaan-3?
Chandrayaan means “craft of the moon” in Hindi. After liftoff of the rocket carrying Chandrayaan-3, a booster module will push the spacecraft out of Earth orbit and then allow it to enter orbit around the Moon.
The lander and rover are attached to the module attempting to land on the lunar surface at the south pole of the moon.
The landing is scheduled for either August 23 or August 24 at sunrise at the landing site, and will end two weeks later at sunset. While on the surface, the solar-powered lander and rover will use several instruments to make thermal, seismic and mineralogical measurements.
What happened to Chandrayaan-2?
Chandrayaan-3 is part of the 2019 lunar mission. After launch, the spacecraft successfully orbited the moon. The mission’s lander, Vikram, and rover, Pragyan, made a landing attempt on September 6, 2019. But about 1.3 miles above the surface, the lander’s path deviated from the planned path and India’s mission controllers back on Earth lost contact.
A few months later, an amateur Internet sleuth in India used images from a NASA orbiter to locate the crash site of the lander and rover, which the US space agency confirmed was accurate.
While Vikram and Pragyan were lost, Chandrayaan-2, the third part of the orbit, was successful. The spacecraft continues to orbit the Moon, where its instruments are used for scientific research and it will act as a communication relay for the new Vikram lander and Pragyan rover on Chandrayaan-3. For this reason, Chandrayaan-3 did not add another orbiter.
Why is India exploring the moon?
India’s space program is a source of national pride, as is the country’s growing commercial space start-ups. When the country’s Mangalyaan spacecraft entered Mars orbit in 2014, children in India were asked to arrive at school at 6:45 a.m., before the usual start time, to watch the event on state television.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi was at Mission Control Center in Bangalore and hailed the Mars mission as “a shining symbol of what we can do as a nation”.
For the Chandrayaan-2 landing attempt, Mr. Modi was again at the space centre, but his speech later was more subdued. “We came very close, but we have a lot more ground to cover in the coming times,” he told the scientists, engineers and staff.
Later in his speech Mr. Modi added: “As important as the end result is the journey and the effort. I can proudly say that the effort paid off and the journey was worth it.
A few hours before the start, Mr. Modi He used his Twitter account For an update on Chandrayaan-3.
“I urge you all to learn more about this mission and the advances we have made in space, science and innovation,” he said. “It will make you all very proud.”
What other plans does India have for its space programme?
India is developing the space shuttle Gaganyaan to carry astronauts into orbit, which is now expected before 2025.
The country is increasing its cooperation with the US for space missions. Earlier this year, the White House announced that NASA would train Indian astronauts “with the goal of augmenting a joint effort to the International Space Station by 2024.”