India’s Chandrayaan-3 Mission Successfully Launches, Sets Sights on Moon Landing

India Launches Chandrayaan-3 Mission to the Moon

India is once again embarking on a mission to land a rover on the moon, with the launch of Chandrayaan-3. On Friday, two rocket boosters propelled the spacecraft into the sky, aiming to make India the fourth nation to achieve a successful moon landing.

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) announced that the mission had launched successfully, with the rocket entering a precise orbit. The spacecraft is set to spend over a month in orbit before landing at the moon’s south pole on August 23.

If Chandrayaan-3 successfully lands, it will deploy a solar-powered rover weighing 60 pounds, which will explore the lunar surface for a two-week period. The successful landing would place India alongside the United States, Russia, and China in the elite group of countries that have achieved this feat.

The $77 million Chandrayaan-3 mission is India’s second attempt, following the unsuccessful landing of Chandrayaan-2 in September 2019. Despite this setback, India has maintained a robust space program, displaying ambition and resourcefulness. The country’s space program, nurtured by government support since the 1960s, has consistently punched above its weight. India launched its first rocket in 1963 and put its first domestic satellite into orbit in 1980. Additionally, from 2014 to 2022, India had a space probe orbiting Mars until contact was lost with ISRO ground stations.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, currently on an official trip in France, hailed the launch as a “new chapter in India’s space odyssey,” stating that it elevated the dreams and ambitions of every Indian. He commended the dedication and ingenuity of the scientists involved in the mission.

With competition intensifying in the space domain, the Biden administration has proposed increased collaboration between the US and India. NASA will train Indian astronauts at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, marking a shift from India’s tradition of training crews in Russia. Moreover, NASA and ISRO are jointly developing an advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar satellite, set to launch in early 2024.

As the Chandrayaan-3 mission voyages towards the moon, it will also carry a laser retroreflector array built by NASA. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson congratulated ISRO on the successful launch and expressed anticipation for the scientific insights that will be derived from the mission.

India’s space program has long been a source of national pride, with the country’s ambitions and resilience shining through. With Chandrayaan-3, India aims to solidify its place among the world’s leading space-faring nations.