Former ISRO chief looks to the future as Chandrayaan-3 mission nears lunar touchdown

As Chandrayaan-3 mission nears lunar touchdown, former ISRO chief K Sivan shares insights on future space missions and India's evolving space ambitions.

| Updated on: Aug 19 2023, 19:52 IST
Moon mission: Chandrayaan-3 completes final manoeuvre; here's what comes next
Former ISRO Chief K Sivan
1/7 Chandrayaan-3's Final Lunar-bound Manoeuvre: India's Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft successfully completes its fifth and final lunar-bound orbit manoeuvre, bringing it closer to the Moon's surface. (ISRO)
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2/7 Completion of Moon-bound Manoeuvres: Chandrayaan-3 concludes all its Moon-bound manoeuvres, entering an orbit of 153 km x 163 km. The next step is to prepare for the separation of the lander module from the propulsion module. (ISRO)
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3/7 Lander Module Separation: Preparations underway for the separation of the lander module, consisting of the lander and rover, from the propulsion module. The separation is scheduled for August 17. (ISRO)
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4/7 Progression of the Mission: Launched on July 14, Chandrayaan-3 entered lunar orbit on August 5. Orbit reduction manoeuvres were conducted on August 6, 9, and 14, positioning the spacecraft over the lunar poles. (PTI)
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5/7 Soft Landing Plans: Post-separation, the lander will undergo a "deboost" process to place it in an orbit with Perilune at 30 km and Apolune at 100 km. A soft landing attempt on the Moon's south polar region is planned for August 23. (ISRO)
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6/7 Challenges and Simulations: The landing's critical phase involves transitioning the lander's velocity from horizontal to vertical. Extensive simulations and adjustments in guidance design and algorithms have been made to ensure a successful landing. (ISRO)
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7/7 Chandrayaan-3 is a follow-on mission to Chandrayaan-2 (2019) aiming to demonstrate safe landing and roving on the Moon. It comprises a propulsion module, lander module, and rover with objectives including safe landing demonstration, rover mobility, and in-situ experiments on the lunar surface. (ISRO)
Former ISRO Chief K Sivan
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Former ISRO Chief K Sivan discusses the future of space exploration as Chandrayaan-3 mission nears lunar landing. (ANI Photo)

As Chandrayaan-3 inches closer to its lunar touchdown, former ISRO chief K Sivan has shared his thoughts on future space missions. Chandrayaan-3, a continuation of Chandrayaan-2 mission, aims to showcase India's capabilities in safe lunar landings and lunar exploration. It's equipped with a propulsion module, lander module, and a rover to test new interplanetary technologies.

The propulsion module carried the lander and rover to a lunar orbit 100 kilometres above the moon's surface. It also carries the SHAPE payload to study Earth from the moon's orbit. The mission's goals include demonstrating a safe landing, rover exploration on the moon, and conducting on-the-spot scientific experiments.

K Sivan's Vision for India's Space Future

K Sivan, the former ISRO chief, emphasised the need for more substantial funding and larger and advanced rockets in the future. He said frugal engineering alone wouldn't suffice and that India should invest in powerful rockets and advanced technology. He praised the government's decision to involve private industries in space activities, noting their growing interest and potential for high-end technology projects, Sivan told NDTV.

ISRO's Landing Challenge

On the other hand, S Somnath, ISRO chairman, highlighted the challenge of transitioning the lander from a horizontal to a vertical position during landing. This is a critical moment as the lander's velocity drops from as high as 1.68 km per second. He stressed that this transition to a vertical position was where Chandrayaan-2 faced difficulties, Business Today reported.

Luna 25 vs. Chandrayaan-3

Interestingly, Russia's Luna 25 spacecraft, which launched nearly a month after Chandrayaan-3, is set to attempt a soft landing on the moon's south pole on August 21, two days ahead of Chandrayaan-3's scheduled Vikram Lander touchdown. Luna 25's swift journey, completed in just 10 days, can be attributed to the use of the Soyuz-2 Fregat booster. In contrast, ISRO chose the Launch Vehicle Mark-III M4 rocket for Chandrayaan-3, requiring five Earth-bound orbit-raising manoeuvres before reaching lunar orbit.

In short as India's Chandrayaan-3 mission progresses towards its lunar landing, former ISRO chief K Sivan underlines the need for increased investment in space technology, larger rockets, and the promising role of private industries in the future of space exploration. Meanwhile, Chandrayaan-3 faces competition from Russia's Luna 25, which is set to achieve a swift lunar landing using a different approach.

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First Published Date: 19 Aug, 19:52 IST