India in space race bid with third moon launch

The emerging Asian superpower is reaching for the stars with the launch of its Chandrayaan-3 rocket. If the spacecraft succeeds in its mission, India will become the fourth country after the US, Soviet Union, and China to accomplish a moon landing.

India will be hoping the six billion rupee ($73 million) vessel, which launched on July 14th, is money well spent, after its predecessor Chandrayaan-2 crash-landed on the moon due to a software glitch in 2019.

The first mission of its kind deployed a probe that detached from the main vessel to land succcessfully on the Moon, but to date India has not managed to berth an entire spacecraft on its surface.

India will be hoping to change that by succeeding at a “soft landing” on the Moon, which would enable it to deploy a rover vehicle and conduct scientific experiments on the orbiting sphere’s surface.

“The Chandrayaan-3 mission, equipped with scientific payloads on its lander and rover, will conduct in-situ studies of the lunar surface, at higher lunar latitude in the Southern lunar hemisphere,” said the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).

The spacecraft will also carry what ISRO describes as “an experimental payload on its propulsion module,” to capture images of the Earth from lunar orbit.

There will time aplenty for biting of one’s nails at ISRO mission control. Local Indian media say Chandrayaan will take 41 days to reach its destination, using its thrusters to fire intermittently as it traces an elliptical path around Earth and Moon before landing on the latter’s south pole on August 23rd.

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