At 14:35 on Friday, the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft took off from Sriharikota space centre, carrying an orbiter, lander and rover. Thousands swarmed the site to watch the rocket take off, soaring in the sky with the chorus of cheers and applause from the team of scientists who got it there.
Its successful landing would place India as the fourth country to achieve this
Chandrayaan-3 is scheduled to reach the moon around the 23rd of August. Its successful landing would place India as the fourth country to achieve this, following the USA, Russia and China. The aims of this space mission are to build upon what has already gathered by scientists from the two previous Chanrayaan missions. Chandrayaan-1 in 2008 undertook what has been called “the first and most detailed search for water on the lunar surface and established the Moon has an atmosphere during daytime.” In 2019, the Chandrayaan-2 mission was only partially successful as the orbiter continues to be in active orbit of the moon but the landing system failed and crashed on the lunar surface. This is where the new mission aims not to make the same mistake and carry out a soft landing on the moon.
Other than that, the mission has ambitions goals to further scientific development. The shadowed south pole area of the Moon is mostly unexplored, and this is the designated landing spot for the Indian scientists who say that while landing in this region may be risky, it is the only area where significant scientific discoveries can be made. The country’s space programme has already seen progress on the northern pole of the moon, with the first Chandrayaan-1 mission finding traces of water there.
According to statements by the scientists, the landing will have to be extremely precise. From the data from the crashed landing of the previous mission, they have been able to map out possible boulders and craters and find a clear area for the landing site. Additionally, it has to coincide with the start of a lunar day, which equals to 14 Earth days, because the batteries of the systems charge with solar power.
The Indian Space Research Organization chief Sreedhara Panicker Somanath said:
“I’m hoping we’ll find something new.”
This mission is being carried out by the Indian space company Isro. With Isro, groundbreaking precedent is reached not just in space, but at their facilities as well, with the number of high ranking female scientists and operations managers who oversee the successes in space. In a country where culture has often been a barrier for women to pursue work in professional spheres, especially ones that require high specialisation and education, Isro provides not just opportunities to these women, but an example to the rest of the world as well. An example is Ms Anuradha TK, the Geosat Programme director at the satellite centre who has been working at the company for 34 years. She said:
“It was the Apollo launch, when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon. We had no television in those days, so I heard about it from my parents and teachers. It really ignited the imagination. I wrote a poem on a man landing on the moon in Kannada, my native language.”
“In my batch, five to six women engineers joined Isro. We stood out and everyone knew us. Today, more than 25% of Isro’s over 16,000 employees are women and we no longer feel special.”