Chandrayaan-3’s Vikram lander will perform a major deboost maneuver on Friday after successfully separating from its propulsion module the day before. The decompression exercise is scheduled to take place around 4pm (STD) today. Deboosting is the process of decelerating to position itself in an orbit that is 30 km from the Moon’s closest point (perilunar) and 100 km from its farthest point (Apollon).
ISRO at X (formerly known as Twitter) also announced yesterday the successful separation of the lander from the propulsion module.
The lander for the Chandrayaan-3 mission is named after Vikram Sarabhai (1919-1971), who is widely considered the father of the Indian space program. On Wednesday, the spacecraft performed a final de-orbit maneuver around the moon for the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft, a week ahead of its scheduled August 23 landing at the lunar south pole.
A GSLV Mark 3 (LVM 3) heavy-lift launch vehicle was used to launch the spacecraft, which entered lunar orbit on August 5 and has since performed a series of orbital maneuvers.
It has been one month and three days since ISRO launched the Chandrayaan-3 mission on July 14. The spacecraft was launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh. ISRO is aiming for a successful soft landing on the moon, which would make India the fourth country in the world to achieve the feat after the US, Russia and China.
The stated goals of Chandrayaan-3, India’s third lunar exploration mission, are safe soft landings, rover rovers on the lunar surface and on-site scientific experiments.
The approval cost for Chandrayaan-3 is Rs. 2.5 billion rupees (excluding launch vehicle cost).
The development phase of Chandrayaan-3 began in January 2020, with a planned launch sometime in 2021. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought unforeseen delays to the mission schedule.
Chandrayaan-3 is ISRO’s follow-up attempt after the 2019 Chandrayaan-2 mission faced challenges during a soft landing on the lunar surface and was ultimately deemed to have failed to achieve its core mission objectives.
Major scientific achievements of Chandrayaan-2 include the first global map of lunar sodium, enhanced understanding of the size distribution of craters, and definitive detection of water ice on the lunar surface using the IIRS instrument.
During Chandrayaan-1’s mission, the satellite orbited the moon more than 3,400 times, according to the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), and the mission ended on Aug. 29, 2009, when communication with the spacecraft was lost.
Meanwhile, Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) Chairman S Somanath last week expressed confidence in Chandrayaan-3’s progress and assured that all systems are operating as planned. Chairman S Somanath said, “Everything is going well now. There will be a series of maneuvers before landing (on the moon) on August 23. The satellite is in good condition.”
The moon is a treasure trove of Earth’s past, and a successful Indian mission to the moon will help enhance life on Earth while also allowing it to explore other parts of the solar system and beyond.
Historically, lunar spacecraft missions have primarily targeted the equatorial region due to its favorable terrain and operating conditions. However, the lunar south pole has a very different and more challenging terrain than the equatorial region.