Indian moon landing module detaches from thrust section in major step | Space news

Chandrayaan-3’s lander successfully separated from its thrust module ahead of the planned moon landing on August 23.

India’s latest space mission has completed a major step in the country’s second attempt to land on the moon, as its lunar module separated from its thrust section.

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) on Thursday confirmed that the lander on Chandrayaan-3, which means “moon rover” in Sanskrit, “successfully separated” from the thrust module.

“Thanks for the trip, my friend!” ISRO said in a post on social media platform X.

The announcement came six days before the planned August 23 landing. If successful, India will join only three other countries that have successfully landed spacecraft on the moon.

Chandrayaan-3 launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, an island off the coast of the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, on July 14, 2023.

ISRO said the propulsion module is now “continuing its journey in the current orbit for months/years” as part of efforts to study exoplanets, or planets outside Earth’s solar system.

Instruments aboard “will conduct a spectral study of Earth’s atmosphere and measure variations in polarization from clouds on Earth—to piece together the signatures of exoplanets that would qualify as habitable!”

The world’s most populous country has a space program on a relatively low budget, but it is rapidly approaching milestones set by the world’s space powers.

Only Russia, the United States and China have achieved controlled landings on the moon.

If the rest of the current mission goes as planned, the probe will land safely near the little-explored moon’s south pole between August 23-24.

India’s last attempt to do so ended in failure four years ago when, moments before landing, ground control lost contact.

Developed by ISRO, Chandrayaan-3 includes a lander called Vikram, which means “courage” in Sanskrit, and a rover called Pragyan, Sanskrit for “wisdom”.

The mission comes with a price tag of $74.6 million – well below its counterparts in other countries, and a testament to India’s frugal space engineering.

The rover has an important mission for one lunar day or 14 Earth days.

ISRO chief Somanath said his engineers carefully studied the data from the last failed mission and did their best to fix the flaws.

India’s space program has grown exponentially in size and momentum since it sent a probe to orbit the moon for the first time in 2008.

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