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Chandrayaan 3 mission was launched; India’s attempt to conquer the moon again

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On Friday afternoon at 12:35 Iran time, India was on its way back to the moon with the launch of the Chandrayaan 3 mission from the Sriharikota launch site on its eastern coast atop a Mark 3 rocket. This mission is largely a repetition of India’s previous attempt to land on the surface of the moon in 2019. That mission, called Chandrayaan 2, failed after the spacecraft crashed on the moon.

With a relatively modest price tag of $73 million, Chandrayaan-3 carries the world’s most populous nation’s hopes of conquering the moon, and launches amid renewed interest in lunar exploration. Both the United States and China plan to send astronauts to the moon in the coming years. Meanwhile, several robotic missions from Russia, Japan, and the United States will also leave Earth for the moon this year and next.

If the Chandrayaan 3 lunar lander and rover can make a soft landing on the moon, it will be an achievement that no other country except China has managed to create in this century. This achievement, which will be a great national honor for India’s indigenous space program, will make it the fourth moon conqueror after the United States, the Soviet Union and China. Apart from the public sector, a number of space startups are also emerging in India.

Last month, India reached an agreement with NASA on a joint mission to the International Space Station next year. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is also building a passenger spacecraft to carry its astronauts into orbit.

The Mark 3 rocket took off from the launch pad today while a crowd of people were waving the Indian flag and colorful umbrellas. 16 minutes later, the spacecraft separated from the rocket’s upper stage, prompting a round of cheers and applause at ISRO’s Mission Control Center. Jeetendra Singh“This is truly a proud moment for India and a defining moment for all of us here at Sriharikota,” said Minister Adviser in India’s Ministry of Science and Technology, speaking after the launch.

Over the coming weeks, the spacecraft will perform a series of maneuvers to stretch its orbit before heading toward the moon. The landing attempt is supposed to be made on August 23 or 24 (1st or 2nd of Shahrivar), at the same time as the sun rises at the landing site in the south pole region of the moon. The Chandrayaan 3 landing pad is located near the planned landing site for Russia’s Luna 25 spacecraft. The South Pole of the Moon apparently contains a significant amount of frozen water, making it a popular location for space exploration and the construction of lunar bases.

Landing on the moon remains difficult and many space programs have failed along the way. Previous successful missions landed near the lunar equator, and those aiming to reach the South Pole have so far failed. Unlike the more accessible tropics, where sunlight is abundant for solar-powered spacecraft, Antarctic regions receive sunlight at low angles, and long shadows there make safe landings a challenge.

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