On Friday July 14th, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) launched its mission to explore the Moon’s south pole, Chandrayaan-3, a probe that is expected to land on the satellite between August 23rd and 24th. “Chandrayaan-3 has started its journey to the Moon,” said ISRO chief Sreedhara Panicker Somanath.
The launch of the Chandrayaan-3 together with the Vehicle Mark-III (LVM3) rocket took place at 2:35 p.m. (9:05 a.m. GMT) on Friday at the Sriharikota center in the southeastern state of Andhra Pradesh. The rocket is to orbit the Earth from where it will begin a 384,400-kilometer journey to the Moon. It will then perform the landing maneuver around August 23rd. “Our LVM3 has now put the Chandrayaan-3 probe into its precise Earth orbit,” said Panicker Somanath.
The mission’s mass is 3,900 kilograms. It will have the capacity to operate for one lunar day, equivalent to fourteen days on Earth. The mission’s goal is to conduct scientific experiments and collect data on the satellite’s mineral composition and the presence of water.
Chandrayaan-3 has started its journey to the Moon.Sreedhara Panicker Somanath, ISRO chief
If the probe manages to land intact on the rugged surface of the lunar south pole, it will become the fourth country to succeed in such a mission, a feat so far achieved only by Russia, the United States and China. All previous missions, have focused on the southern regions of the satellite and Chandrayaan-3 would be the first to land at the south pole. “Our journey to the Moon for the most awaited lunar landing has begun, and we will closely follow the evolution of the spacecraft,” said Mission director P. Veeramuthuvel
This is India‘s third lunar exploration mission, after the Asian nation launched its first space mission to the Moon in 2008, Chandrayaan-1, consisting of an orbiter that circled the satellite more than 3,400 times without landing between November 2008 and August 2009.
The probe discovered direct evidence of water on the Moon, and an analysis of measurements taken by Chandrayaan-1 with a NASA measuring instrument in 2018 confirmed multiple ice reservoirs in the permanently shadowed areas of the satellite, according to the US agency. ISRO already attempted in 2019 to land a probe on the Moon’s south pole with its second mission, Chandrayaan-2, but the mission failed. It crashed due to technical problems.
Tourists to space in 2025
The Mumbai-based Aura Aerospace Technology Pvt Ltd company has started building a space capsule measuring 10 feet x 8 feet, which can carry six tourists plus the pilot into space at a time. A prototype of the space capsule, named SKAP 1, was presented at the science exhibition ‘Akash Tatva’ in November of last year, in Dehradun, and received positive remarks from scientists and visitors. The firm will start launching flights as of 2025, Space Aura founder and CEO Akash Porwal told local media. Once the prototype passes the validation tests, the launch will likely happen in Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh.
Equipped with all modern facilities, life-saving and information systems, the Aura’s space capsule will be propelled by a balloon filled with helium or hydrogen gas up to 30 to 35 km above sea level. From this point in space, tourists will be able to witness the Earth’s curvature and the blackness of space for around 1 hour. The space capsule will remain within a 35 km radius above the earth. This means that the experience is not entirely “outer space” since, technically, “outer space” is beyond the Karman Line, which is at an altitude of 100 km.
To bring down the spaceship, the space balloon will slowly be deflated and a parachute will be unpacked. At a definite point, the space balloon will be detached from the space capsule and the tourists will be brought down safely. Aura Aerospace Technology is counting with the support from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) to achieve its target of launching tourists to space within a bit longer than 2 years.