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ISRO to launch Chandrayaan-3 Moon mission

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) revealed on Thursday that the upcoming moon mission, Chandrayaan-3, is scheduled to be launched on July 14, 2023. The launch will take place at 2:35 pm from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh, using ISRO’s new heavylift launch vehicle LVM-3, which will carry an integrated module.
ISRO took to Twitter to unveil the official launch date for the Chandrayaan-3 mission. The agency tweeted, “Announcing the launch of Chandrayaan-3: LVM3-M4/Chandrayaan-3 Mission: The launch is now scheduled for July 14, 2023, at 2:35 pm IST from SDSC, Sriharikota.”
Earlier this week, ISRO achieved a significant milestone by integrating the encapsulated assembly of Chandrayaan-3 with the launch vehicle LVM3 at SDSC. This successful integration marks a crucial step forward in preparing for the upcoming mission.
Chandrayaan-3 serves as a successor to the Chandrayaan-2 mission, with the primary objective of demonstrating end-to-end capabilities in safe lunar landing and exploration. The mission is equipped with scientific instruments designed to study various aspects of the lunar environment, including the thermophysical properties of the lunar regolith, lunar seismicity, lunar surface plasma environment, and elemental composition near the landing site.
Earlier this year, in March, the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft successfully completed essential tests, validating its ability to withstand the challenging vibration and acoustic conditions experienced during launch. This achievement showcased the spacecraft’s resilience and readiness to tackle the demanding lunar mission.
India’s previous lunar mission, Chandrayaan-2, launched on July 22, 2019, from the Satish Dhawan Space Center, Sriharikota. Unfortunately, the mission encountered a setback when the Vikram lunar lander failed to make a successful landing on the Moon’s surface, resulting in a crash on September 6.
First announced in January 2020, the Chandrayaan-3 mission was initially expected for 2022. The space agency has incorporated findings from its previous, $140-million Moon lander mission, which failed minutes before a planned touchdown on the lunar surface in September 2019. It launched in July of that year, then travelled to the Moon during the intervening months.
The lander in the mission will include technologies such as laser and RF-based altimeters, velocimeters, throttleable liquid engines, hazard detection and avoidance systems and a landing leg mechanism, the space agency said in a detailed note about the mission.
ISRO will also use a laser-induced breakdown spectroscope and an alpha particle X-ray spectrometer on the rover to do qualitative and quantitative elemental analysis, and examine the elemental composition of lunar soil and rocks around the landing site.
Over the past few years, India has made significant strides in advancing its space exploration efforts. The country also recently passed its space policy to ease collaboration between government bodies including ISRO and space tech startups.
Alongside Chandrayaan, ISRO is working on the highly-awaited human space flight mission Gaganyaan, which intends to take three people to a low-Earth orbit of about 250 miles for three days. The $1.8 billion project is expected in 2024. Last month, India also signed NASA’s Artemis Accords to collaborate with the program’s participating countries on space exploration.
The Indian Space Agency has made improvements in the lander after learning from Chandrayaan 2 mission of 2019 when the lander crash-landed on the Moon’s surface due to a software glitch. The payloads on the Lander of Chandrayaan 3 will soft land on Moon and measure the thermal conductivity and temperature, seismicity around the landing site and estimate the plasma density. The Rover payload will derive the elemental composition in the vicinity of the landing site.
Chandrayaan-3 consists of an indigenous lander module (LM), propulsion module (PM), and a rover with an objective of developing and demonstrating new technologies required for inter-planetary missions.
According to ISRO, the lander has the capability to soft land at a specified lunar site, and deploys the rover, which will carry out in-situ chemical analysis of the lunar surface during the course of its mobility. The Lander and the Rover have scientific payloads to carry out experiments on the lunar surface.
Earlier on Wednesday, The Indian Space Research Organisation integrated the encapsulated assembly containing Chandrayaan-3 with the launch vehicle — LVM3 at Satish Dhawan Space Centre.
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is the space agency of India. The organisation is involved in science, engineering and technology to harvest the benefits of outer space for India and the mankind. ISRO is a major constituent of the Department of Space (DOS), Government of India. The department executes the Indian Space Programme primarily through various Centres or units within ISRO.
ISRO was previously the Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR), set up by the Government of India in 1962, as envisioned by Dr Vikram A Sarabhai. ISRO was formed on August 15, 1969 and superseded INCOSPAR with an expanded role to harness space technology. DOS was set up and ISRO was brought under DOS in 1972. The prime objective of ISRO/DOS is the development and application of space technology for various national needs. To fulfill this objective, ISRO has established major space systems for communication, television broadcasting and meteorological services; resources monitoring and management; space-based navigation services. ISRO has developed satellite launch vehicles, PSLV and GSLV, to place the satellites in the required orbits.
Alongside its technological advancement, ISRO contributes to science and science education in the country. Various dedicated research centres and autonomous institutions for remote sensing, astronomy and astrophysics, atmospheric sciences and space sciences in general function under the aegis of Department of Space. ISRO’s own Lunar and interplanetary missions along with other scientific projects encourage and promote science education, apart from providing valuable data to the scientific community which in turn enriches science.
ISRO has its headquarters in Bengaluru. Its activities are spread across various centres and units. Launch Vehicles are built at Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Thiruvananthapuram; Satellites are designed and developed at U R Rao Satellite Centre (URSC), Bengalure; Integration and launching of satellites and launch vehicles are carried out from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), Sriharikota; Development of liquid stages including cryogenic stage is carried out at Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC), Valiamala & Bengaluru; Sensors for Communication and Remote Sensing satellites and application aspects of the space technology are taken up at Space Applications Centre (SAC), Ahmedabad and Remote Sensing satellite data reception processing and dissemination is entrusted to National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), Hyderabad.
ISRO has its origins in space sciences. ISRO’s space science programme started with studies of upper atmosphere using sounding rockets. The saga is continuing with scientific missions like AstroSat, Mars Missions, Chandrayaan missions followed by Solar and other planetary missions. Indian space programme encompasses research in multiple areas like astronomy, astrophysics, planetary and earth sciences, atmospheric sciences and theoretical physics supported by scientific balloons, sounding rockets, space platforms and ground-based facilities.

The author is a regular columnist and can be mailed at m.hanief@gmail.com)

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