India’s Chandrayaan-3 enters lunar orbit in step closer to moon rover soft landing

On July 14, 2023, the spacecraft Chandrayaan-3 will launch from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India.

India drew one step closer to a controlled landing on the moon this weekend as its Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft entered lunar orbit, inching toward the surface's unexplored South Pole.

In a Sunday post on X, previously known as Twitter, the Indian Space Research Organization stated the spacecraft also "successfully underwent a planned orbit reduction maneuver." "The engines' retrofiring brought it closer to the Moon's surface."

The mission is scheduled to arrive on the moon on August 23. If successful, India would be only the fourth country to accomplish the difficult feat, following the United States, the erstwhile Soviet Union, and China.

Chandrayaan-3, developed by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), consists of a lander, propulsion module, and rover. Its mission is to land safely near the moon's South Pole, collect data, and perform a series of scientific experiments to learn more about the moon's composition.

On July 14, it lifted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, southern Andhra Pradesh state, raising India's space goals and solidifying the country's image as a burgeoning innovation and technological centre.

It is India's second attempt at a soft landing, following the failure of the Chandrayaan-2 in 2019. Its first lunar mission, Chandrayaan-1, orbited the moon before deliberately crashing down on its surface in 2008.

For years, Indian experts have been working on the project.

Chandrayaan-1, India's first lunar mission, detected water molecules on the moon's surface. The Chandrayaan-2 successfully entered lunar orbit eleven years later, but its rover crashed-landed on the moon's surface. It, too, was tasked with exploring the moon's South Pole.

India's space program extends back more than six decades, to a time when the country was a freshly formed republic and a terribly impoverished country recovering from a brutal division.

When the country launched its first rocket into space in 1963, it was no match for the aspirations of the United States and the former Soviet Union, who were well ahead in the space race.

India is now the world's most populous country and its fifth largest economy, but its space goals have lagged behind under Modi.

"Chandrayaan-3 writes a new chapter in India's space odyssey," Modi tweeted immediately after the mission launched last month.

"It soars high, elevating every Indian's dreams and ambitions." This historic feat is a credit to our scientists' unwavering devotion. I applaud their courage and resourcefulness!"

Since then, India has spent over $75 million on its Chandrayaan-3 mission.