India successfully launched a rocket on Friday, marking its second attempt to land an uncrewed spacecraft on the Moon. The country’s cost-effective space program aims to achieve significant milestones and establish itself among global space powers.
The LVM3-M4 rocket took off from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh, carrying the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft while receiving applause and cheers from thousands of enthusiasts, reported by The News International.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) confirmed on Twitter that the Chandrayaan-3 had embarked on its lunar journey and that the spacecraft was in good health. This mission, named “Chandrayaan-3,” meaning “Mooncraft” in Sanskrit, holds immense significance for India’s space exploration.
India’s previous attempt to land on the Moon failed as ground control lost contact moments before landing, but the country still needs to be fulfilled in its pursuit of lunar exploration. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, tweeting from France, where he attended the Bastille Day parade, hailed Chandrayaan-3 as a new chapter in India’s space odyssey. He expressed hope that the mission would elevate the dreams and ambitions of every Indian.
If the remainder of the mission proceeds as planned, Chandrayaan-3 will safely land near the Moon’s relatively unexplored south pole between August 23 and 24. The spacecraft, developed by ISRO, consists of a lander module named Vikram, meaning “valor” in Sanskrit, and a rover named Pragyan, representing wisdom.
The mission costs $74.6 million, significantly lower than other countries, highlighting India’s ability to achieve frugal space engineering by adapting existing technology and utilizing highly skilled engineers who earn comparatively lower wages.
The journey of Chandrayaan-3 to the Moon will take longer than the human-crewed Apollo missions of the 1960s and 1970s, as the Indian rocket used is less potent than the United States’ Saturn V.
The spacecraft will orbit the Earth elliptically five or six times to gain speed before embarking on a month-long trajectory to the Moon. If the landing is successful, the rover will disembark from Vikram and explore the nearby lunar region, capturing images for analysis. The rover’s mission lifespan is expected to be one lunar day, equivalent to 14 Earth days.
Following the launch, Jitendra Singh, the junior minister for science and technology, expressed his delight, stating that it was a moment of glory for India. The ISRO chief, S. Somanath, mentioned that engineers meticulously studied data from the previous failed mission and tried to rectify the issues.
India’s space program has rapidly expanded since its first lunar orbit mission in 2008. In 2014, India became the first Asian nation to put a satellite into Mars orbit successfully, and three years later, the ISRO launched 104 satellites in a single mission.
The Gaganyaan program, India’s “Skycraft,” aims to send a human-crewed mission into Earth’s orbit within the following year. Additionally, India strives to enhance its share of the global commercial space market by offering cost-effective solutions for private payloads, significantly reducing costs compared to its competitors.
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