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Chandrayaan-3: India launches a lander and rover to explore the moon’s surface

Indian spacecraft Chandrayaan-3, the word for "moon craft" in Sanskrit, blasts off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India.

An Indian spacecraft bound for the moon successfully launched from Sriharikota, off the country’s east coast, on Friday, following a similar mission that failed nearly four years ago.

Back in 2019, India launched a robotic spacecraft near the moon’s little-explored south pole, which ended in a crash.

The disaster was said to have been caused by a software glitch as the lander was making its final descent to deploy a rover on the moon’s craters.

Now India is giving it another shot with its new spacecraft, the Chandrayaan-3 - the word for “moon craft” in Sanskrit - which took off amidst cheering and clapping on Friday afternoon, with an orbiter, a lander, and a rover.

“Congratulations India. Chandrayaan-3 has started its journey towards the moon,” India Space Research Organisation (ISRO)dra director Sreedhara Panicker Somanath said shortly after the launch.

India’s prime minister Narendra Modi called the spacecraft “a new chapter in India's space odyssey.”

“It soars high, elevating the dreams and ambitions of every Indian,” he tweeted. “This momentous achievement is a testament to our scientists' relentless dedication. I salute their spirit and ingenuity!”

Chandrayaan-3 is set to embark on a journey that should last slightly over a month before landing on the moon’s surface later in August.

The mission is intended to bring back precious data to the scientific community about the properties of lunar soil and rocks, including their chemical and elemental compositions, according to Dr. Jitendra Singh, India’s junior minister for Science and Technology.

A girl takes a selfie with the Indian spacecraft Chandrayaan-3, the word for "moon craft" in Sanskrit, inside a temple in Mumbai, India. AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade

If the spacecraft manages to land safely on the moon, India would become the fourth country to reach the satellite, after the US, the Soviet Union, and China.

ISRO director Somanath said that the mission is focused on a safe and soft landing to the moon, adding that while the Indian space agency has perfected the art of reaching up to the moon, “it is the landing that the agency is working on.”

The mission cost a staggering €66.5 million and is expected to last a total of 14 days. Modi had earlier said on Twitter that the moon mission “will carry the hopes and dreams of our nation.”

Posted on 14 Jul 2023 15:47 link