India’s first attempt to put a robotic spacecraft on the moon three years ago ended in a crash and crater. Now it is ready to try again.
The mission, called Chandrayaan-3, comes amid renewed interest in lunar exploration, but in the past decade, China has only succeeded in landing a spacecraft there in one piece. That could change soon. Chandrayaan-3 is the first of as many as six missions that could successfully land on the moon in the coming months.
What is the release date and how can I watch it?
The launch date is set for Friday, July 14th at 5:05 AM ET (2:35 PM PT). The Indian Space Research Organization — the Indian equivalent of NASA — will begin broadcasting coverage of the flight on her YouTube channel At 4:30 am
What is Chandrayaan-3?
Chandrayaan means “the chariot of the moon” in Hindi. After the rocket carrying Chandrayaan-3 lifts off, the thrust module will propel the spacecraft out of Earth’s orbit and then allow the mission to enter lunar orbit.
Attached to the module is a lander and a rover that will attempt to land on the lunar surface in the moon’s south polar region.
The landing is scheduled to take place on August 23 or August 24, when the sun rises at the landing site, and is scheduled to end two weeks later when the sun sets. While on the surface, the lander and solar-powered rover will use an array of instruments to perform thermal, seismic, and mineralogical measurements.
What happened to Chandrayaan-2?
Chandrayaan-3 is basically a part of the moon mission in 2019. After the launch, the mission successfully orbited the moon. The lander for that mission, Vikram, and the rover, Pragyan, made a landing attempt on Sept. 6, 2019. But about 1.3 miles above the surface, the rover’s trajectory deviated from the planned path and mission controllers in India lost contact with the ground.
Months later, an amateur internet investigator in India used images from a NASA spacecraft to find the crash site of the probe and rover, which the US space agency confirmed was accurate.
While Vikram and Pragyan got lost, Chandrayaan-2’s third segment, an orbital one, was successful. The spacecraft continues to travel around the Moon, where its instruments are used for scientific study, and will serve as a communications relay for the new Vikram lander and Pragyan rover on Chandrayaan-3. For this reason, Chandrayaan-3 does not include another orbiter.
Why is India exploring the moon?
India’s space program is a source of national pride, as is the country’s growing cadre of commercial space startups. When the country’s Mangalyaan spacecraft entered orbit around Mars in 2014, children across India were told to get to school by 6:45 a.m., earlier than their usual start time, to watch the event on state television.
Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, was at the mission control center in Bengaluru and hailed the Mars mission as “a shining symbol of what we are capable of as a nation.”
For the Chandrayaan-2 landing attempt, Mr. Modi was once again at the space center, but his address after that was much quieter. “We’ve come so close,” he told the scientists, engineers, and staff, “but we’ll need to cover more areas in the times to come.”
Mr. Modi later added in his speech, “The journey and effort are as important as the end result. I can proudly say that the effort was worth it and so was the journey.”
What other plans does India have for its space programme?
India is developing a spacecraft, the Gaganyaan, to carry astronauts into orbit, which is now expected no later than 2025.
The country is increasing its cooperation with the United States on space missions. Earlier this year, the White House announced that NASA would provide training for Indian astronauts “with a view to a joint effort for the International Space Station in 2024.”