Chandrayaan-3 enters lunar orbit

Chandrayaan-3 is India's second attempt to achieve a controlled moon landing, after a failed attempt in 2019. Only the US, Russia and China have previously achieved this feat.

Chandrayaan-3's take-off (photo: DW)
Chandrayaan-3's take-off (photo: DW)
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India's space mission Chandrayaan-3 entered the moon's orbit on Saturday, 5 August, as the aerospace programme attempts a budget un-crewed lunar landing for the second time.

The Indian Space Research Organisation's earlier attempt proved unsuccessful in 2019, when ground control lost contact with Chandrayaan-2 moments before landing. Only Russia, the US and China achieved successful controlled lunar landings.

ISRO's first lunar mission, Chandrayaan-1, crashed (intentionally) into the moon's south pole in 2008, the first uncontrolled landing on that part of the moon by anyone. Unfortunately, Chandrayaan-2—which went AWOL—likely met the same fate in 2019 when attempting a controlled landing.

Its name (Chandrayaan) meaning 'Mooncraft' in Sanskrit, the space vessel was "successfully inserted into the lunar orbit" some three weeks after its launch, ISRO announced on Saturday.

If all goes according to plan, Chandrayaan-3 is scheduled to touch down on the moon's surface between August 23 and 24. The mission also aims to collect images from the little-explored lunar south pole, which cannot be observed from Earth.

The mission costs $74.6 million (roughly €67.66), a far smaller sum than that dedicated by other countries to similar missions. A combination of taking inspiration from existing technology and comparatively low wages for highly skilled engineers accounts for ISRO's far greater cost efficiency.

That said, India's relatively low-budget space programme has grown significantly since its first probe orbited the moon in 2008. We also became the first nation in Asia to put a satellite into orbit around Mars in 2014.

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