India achieved a significant milestone on July 14, 2023, with the successful launch of Chandrayaan-3, its third lunar mission. Taking off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh, the spacecraft embarked on its journey to the moon.
Chandrayaan-3 follows in the footsteps of its predecessor, Chandrayaan-2, which launched in 2019. While this mission did achieve lunar orbit, the lander and rover did not make a successful controlled landing and lost the vehicle.
The primary objective of Chandrayaan-3 is to accomplish a soft landing near the moon's south pole. A region of particular interest given it harbours ice within shaded asteroid craters.
The lander is equipped with a range of scientific instruments, including a spectrometer to analyze the lunar surface composition, a camera to capture images of the landing site, a radar system to map the subsurface, and even a small lunar rover.
If all goes according to plan, the lander is scheduled to touch down on the moon between August 23 and 24, 2023. Success in this endeavor would establish India as the fourth country to achieve a lunar landing, joining the ranks of the United States, the former Soviet Union, and China.
The launch of Chandrayaan-3 serves as a testament to the growing prowess of India's space program. It showcases the nation's expanding capabilities in space exploration and sets the stage for future missions not only to the moon but also beyond, opening up new frontiers for scientific discovery. Furthermore, it is worth noting that the total cost of the Chandrayaan-3 mission is estimated at approximately $75 million, highlighting how cost effective India's space programmes have been.