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India to achieve the edge with ISRO's Chandrayaan III

ISRO all set to launch their third highly anticipated lunar mission, Chandrayaan III on July 14, 2023 at 2:35 pm from the legendary Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota. Chandrayaan lll is a determined follow up of ISRO's last lunar mission Chandrayaan ll, demonstrating India's end to end capability of a safer lunar landing even in one of the most challenging terrain of the satelite, the South pole. Many countries have previously tried to make successful landing there but no one did. Thus Chandrayaan's success will provide India with the upper hand in this space race demonstrating it's technical power and bold ambitions.

Why the South Pole of Moon?

ISRO explains that lunar south pole has been of special interest because parts of it remain in shadows, encouraging possibility of sampling Moon ice for the first time. Also, the huge craters in that terrain might contain clues of young Solar System. This study will also be significant because Artemis lll, third element of the United States future manned space mission which is to be conducted in the next few years. Beyond Mars, the Moon could act as a haven for research into radio astronomy, gravitational waves, and astrophysics due to low interference and the lack of atmosphere.

Previously Chandrayaan l launched in October 2008 as India's first ever deep space effort where the moon orbiter carried an impactor probe that was intentionally crashed into the lunar south pole detecting water ice. With Chandrayaan ll (2019), the Vikram lander was merely 2.1 km away from achieving the said milestone, however during its final moments communication was lost.

Equipments and notable improvements made in Chandrayaan 3

Chandrayaan 3 consists of a Lander Module (LM), Propulsion module (PM) and a Rover with an objective of developing and demonstrating new technologies required for Inter planetary missions. The Lander will have the capability to soft land at a specified lunar site and deploy the Rover which will carry out in-situ scientific analysis of the surface as ittravels over it. The Lander and the Rover have scientific payloads to carry out experiments on the lunar surface. The launcher identified for Chandrayaan-3 is LVM3 M4 (Launch Vehicle Mark 3) which will place the integrated module in an Elliptic Parking Orbit (EPO) of size ~170 x 36500 km.

With this particular mission ISRO efforts to learn from every previous difficulty and failure, such as excluding the central lander thruster which was hastily added in Chandrayaan ll and including only four lander thrusters with throttleable engines generating 800 Newtons of thrust. Equipped with advanced sensors like accelerometers, altimeters, Doppler velocimeters, star sensors, inclinometers, and hazard detection cameras, the lander continuously collects real-time data enabling precise navigation, altitude control, and hazard avoidance, contributing to a secure landing process. The lander's landing legs and thrusters further enhance stability and control during the descent. The lander consists of stronger legs and larger solar panels. Lander includes extra fuel capacity to deal with any potential disruption or unforeseen situation to make sucessful recovery of the machine if required. The landing velocity of Vikram has also been increased from 2m/second to 3m/second ensuring that the lander will not crash. Unlike the partially successful Chandrayaan ll, there is no orbiter element this time for Chandrayaan 3 for it successful landing. The descent poses a critical phase for the mission’s success described as “15 minutes of terror" by former ISRO chairperson K. Sivan.

The mission objectives of Chandrayaan-3 are:

- To demonstrate Safe and Soft Landing on Lunar Surface

- To demonstrate Rover roving on the moon and

- To conduct in-situ scientific experiments.

Expected landing is on August 23-24,prone to adjustments depending on the sunrise over the moon. If necessary, ISRO will reschedule the landing for September. Chandrayaan lll, equipped with many instruments is supposed to conduct a number of experiments on the Moon for a period of 14 Earth days equivalent to 196 Moon days as one day on the Moon is equal to 14 days on Earth.

Success to boost economy and investors

Chandrayaan lll success could attract investments and boost the industry. Just a couple of years ago, India’s space economy was valued at over $9.6 billion in 2020. By 2025, this could go up to $13 billion, according to EY India.

Six decades after its first rocket launch, with the founding father if ISRO Vijram Sarabhai, India now expands her footing in space exploration and technology.

The success of Chandrayaan lll will make India join the elite group to be the fourth country to successfully accomplish a moon landing, that too with no international collaboration. Thus the success landing will not only give our nation an edge in this space race but also an economic boost.

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