If the plan unfolds smoothly, the lander will execute a secure and gentle touchdown on the Moon, propelling India into the ranks of the fourth nation to accomplish this achievement, following the U.S., Russia, and China.
On August 22, 2023, in Chennai, a group of students adorned with painted faces encircle a replica of the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft. | Photo Credit: AFP
After a gap of four years since its predecessor’s unfortunate lunar crash just moments before touchdown, Chandrayaan-3’s lander module, carrying a rover within, is set to once again attempt a Moon landing at 6:04 p.m. on Wednesday.
Around 5:45 p.m., the Mission Operations Complex (MOX) at ISRO’s Telemetry, Tracking, and Command Network (ISTRAC) in Bengaluru will initiate the powered descent of the lander module. If all proceeds according to plan, 19 minutes later at 6:04 p.m., the lander is expected to make a controlled and gentle landing on the Moon. This success would propel India into the elite group of nations achieving this feat, following the U.S., Russia, and China.
During Chandrayaan-2’s mission, the complex powered descent was famously dubbed the “15 minutes of terror” by then ISRO Chairman K. Sivan. While Chandrayaan-2’s Vikram lander narrowly escaped this tense phase, it lost communication and ceased functioning at an altitude of 2.1 km before touchdown. With the Chandrayaan-3 mission, ISRO has taken several measures to ensure success, including enhancing the lander’s legs, reducing the number of engines, increasing propellant quantity, and introducing new sensors.
In a recent update, ISRO Chairman S. Somanath reassured that even in the event of sensor failure during the soft landing attempt, the propulsion system’s functionality could still ensure a successful landing. He emphasized the design’s robustness and the introduction of improved algorithms and guidance.
After achieving a secure landing on the lunar surface, ISRO will deploy the rover to perform in-situ chemical analysis. The rover, designed for a mission life of one Lunar day (equivalent to 14 Earth days), carries scientific payloads for lunar experiments.
The Chandrayaan-3 mission, launched on July 14 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, successfully navigated Earth-bound maneuvers, crucial trans-lunar injection (TLI), lunar orbit insertion, and orbit reduction maneuvers. The lander and rover underwent separation from the propulsion module.
As of Tuesday, ISRO reported that the mission remains on schedule, with systems undergoing regular checks and enthusiastic activity at the Mission Operations Complex (MOX).
On August 22, 2023, near Atal Bridge in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, a young man adorns himself with the Tricolor in a show of support for ISRO’s Chandrayaan-3 mission. | Photo Credit: Vijay Soneji
On August 22, 2023, in Chennai, students with painted faces unite to create a ring around a replica of the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft.