Chandrayaan-3: India’s Moon lander Vikram aims for historic lunar south pole landing
- Published3 hours ago
By Geeta Pandey
BBC News, Delhi
India is looking to make history on Wednesday with its third lunar mission set to land on the Moon.
If Chandrayaan-3 is successful, India will be the first country to land near the Moon’s little-explored south pole.
One of its major goals is to hunt for water-based ice, which scientists say could support human habitation on the Moon in future.
India’s attempt comes just days after Russia’s Luna-25 crashed while trying to touch down in the same region.
If successful, it will also be only the fourth country to achieve a soft landing on the Moon – the US, the former Soviet Union and China have all landed near the equator.
India’s attempt to land its Chandrayaan-2 mission near the south pole in 2019 was unsuccessful – it crashed into the lunar surface.
So all eyes are now on Chandrayaan-3.
The spacecraft with an orbiter, lander and a rover lifted off on 14 July from the Sriharikota space centre in south India.
The lander – called Vikram after Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) founder Vikram Sarabhai – carries within its belly the 26kg rover named Pragyaan, the Sanskrit word for wisdom.
Its journey to the Moon has generated a lot of excitement in India, with wishes for the mission’s success pouring in from across the country.
Isro has announced plans for a live telecast of the landing and millions of people, including schoolchildren, are expected to tune in.
Isro chief Sreedhara Panicker Somanath has said he is confident that Chandrayaan-3 will make a successful soft landing.
He said they had carefully studied the data from the Chandrayaan-2 crash and carried out simulation exercises to fix the glitches.
In the past few days, the Vikram lander’s camera has been extensively mapping the lunar surface while attempting to locate a safe landing spot.
In its update on Tuesday, Isro said the mission “is on schedule, systems are undergoing regular checks and smooth sailing is continuing”.