After intercepting the Moon on August 5, Chandrayaan-3 is now circling Earth’s nearest cosmic neighbour in preparation for the planned gentle landing. The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) has declared that the spacecraft will gradually reduce its orbit around the Moon through several moon-bound manoeuvres before the Propulsion Module separates from the lander-rover combo.Chandrayaan-3 successfully completed a scheduled orbit reduction maneuver, bringing it closer to the moon’s surface, late Sunday night.
The spacecraft’s engines were retrofitted, lowering its orbit to 170 km x 4,313 km. This operation was carried out a day after the spacecraft entered lunar orbit, marking an important step forward in India’s space exploration endeavours. Isro launched Chandrayaan-3 on July 14, 2023, with the goal of showing a safe and soft landing on the lunar surface, operating a lunar rover, and conducting in-situ scientific investigations. The spacecraft is made up of three major parts: a propulsion module, a lander, and a rover.
The propulsion module is in charge of getting the lander and rover into orbit around the moon. The next operation to decrease the orbit is planned for August 9, 2023, between 1:00 and 2:00 p.m. IST. This operation will move the spacecraft closer to the surface of the moon, preparing it for the approaching soft landing. A ‘soft landing’ is when a spaceship successfully lands without inflicting considerable damage to itself or its payload. The landing location chosen for Vikram, the lander in this mission, is 4 kilometres by 2 kilometres larger than that of the previous mission. The landing velocity has been increased from two to three meters per second. Vikram is scheduled to arrive on August 23 or 24.
The Chandrayaan-3 mission succeeded Chandrayaan-2, which crashed after entering lunar orbit due to a last-minute error in the landing guidance software. Isro hopes to correct the faults of the previous mission with Chandrayaan-3 and make a successful soft landing on the moon. As the countdown to the soft landing begins, the world waits with bated breath, hoping that this audacious mission will succeed. If the landing is successful, India will become the fourth country to do so, joining the United States, China, and the erstwhile Soviet Union.