Chandrayaan-3 begins moon descent in historic moment for India

By Reuters   August 23, 2023 | 04:48 am PT
Chandrayaan-3 begins moon descent in historic moment for India
People watch a live stream of Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft's landing on the moon, inside an auditorium of Gujarat Science City in Ahmedabad, India, Aug. 23, 2023. Photo by Reuters/Amit Dave
An Indian spacecraft began its descent to the moon on Wednesday, the space agency said, in a mission seen as crucial to lunar exploration and India's standing as a space power, just days after a similar Russian lander crashed.

The Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft will now attempt a landing on the lunar south pole, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said. This is India's second attempt to land a spacecraft on the moon and comes less than a week after Russia's Luna-25 mission failed.

Chandrayaan means "moon vehicle" in Hindi and Sanskrit. In 2019, ISRO's Chandrayaan-2 mission successfully deployed an orbiter but its lander crashed.

On Wednesday, ISRO said it was all set to activate the automatic landing sequence of the spacecraft, triggering the algorithm that will take over once it reaches above the designated spot and help it land.

If it lands successfully, the Chandrayaan-3 is expected to remain functional for two weeks, running a series of experiments including a spectrometer analysis of the mineral composition of the lunar surface.

"Landing on the south pole (of the moon) would actually allow India to explore if there is water ice on the moon. And this is very important for cumulative data and science on the geology of the moon," said Carla Filotico, a partner and managing director at consultancy SpaceTec Partners.

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