Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Liftoff: India’s Chandrayaan-3 Launch Ignites Global Lunar Race

By Staff Correspondent

In a noteworthy display of its renewed commitment to space exploration, India has initiated its latest lunar mission, Chandrayaan-3. The launch marks the first of potentially six lunar missions slated for the coming months as international competition for lunar dominance grows fiercer.

Departing from Sriharikota at 2:35 PM earlier today, an established launch site along India’s eastern seaboard, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has ventured a retake of its 2019 lunar mission, which ended tragically in a crash. Chandrayaan-3 serves as a symbol of national resilience and a testament to the global revitalisation of lunar exploration.

A Renewed Era Of Lunar Exploration

As the USA and China set their sights on placing astronauts on the moon within the next few years, India, Russia, and Japan have robust robotic missions planned for the near future. The success of Chandrayaan-3 could place India on an elite list of nations that have achieved successful robotic landings in this century, with China currently being the only member.

The ambitious venture is also bolstered by the rise of numerous commercial space start-ups within India. A recent agreement between India and the United States to conduct a joint mission to the International Space Station in 2024 demonstrates India’s growing role in international space collaborations. ISRO is also spearheading the development of its indigenous spacecraft for astronaut transportation to orbit.

Future Launches

A pivotal moment in this resurgent lunar endeavour occurred when the Launch Vehicle Mark III lifted off from the island base north of Chennai earlier today. The spacecraft successfully detached from the rocket’s upper stage sixteen minutes later, prompting jubilant celebrations from mission control.

The schedule for Chandrayaan-3’s expedition includes a series of calculated engine firings designed to elongate the craft’s orbit before its lunar approach. The landing attempt is planned for 23 or 24 August, strategically timed to coincide with the lunar sunrise in the moon’s south polar region.

Learning From The Past

The Chandrayaan missions have had mixed fortunes. The 2008 Chandrayaan-1 was a successful orbiter mission but lasted less than a year, while the 2019 Chandrayaan-2 mission’s landing attempt resulted in an unfortunate crash, identified to be due to a slightly overperforming engine. Nevertheless, Chandrayaan-2 continues to serve scientific research, orbiting the moon.

Chandrayaan-3 aims to learn from past errors, featuring upgraded landing legs, additional solar cells, and improved altitude-measuring sensors. The landing area parameters have been broadened, and the software has been fine-tuned for a quicker spacecraft turnaround.

A Stepping Stone To A Bright Future

If the mission proceeds successfully, the lander and rover will comprehensively study the moon’s thermal, seismic, and mineralogical features. The mission will culminate two weeks post-landing, following the sunset at the landing site.

India’s ambitious space ventures serve scientific purposes and bolster the nation’s pride. The success of the Mangalyaan Mars mission in 2014 was celebrated nationwide, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed commendable spirit in the face of the Chandrayaan-2 failure.

Beyond The Moon

Beyond Chandrayaan-3, ISRO has its sight on loftier goals, including a planned crewed flight for 2025 using its Gaganyaan spacecraft and further collaboration with NASA, including astronaut training and joint efforts towards the International Space Station.

India’s signing of the Artemis Accords and participation in the NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (Sr) mission reflects its continued commitment to space exploration. Furthermore, India has ambitions to study the sun and Venus.

Global Efforts Continue

Notably, other nations are closely following India’s lunar pursuit. Russia’s Luna 25, Japan’s SLIM, and three NASA-backed missions will journey to the moon later this year. Despite the difficulties faced by Ispace’s lunar attempt earlier this year, it is clear that the global race to the moon is only intensifying.

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