Chandrayaan-3: India’s Moon lander Vikram aims for historic lunar south pole landing

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Chandrayaan-3: India’s Moon lander Vikram aims for historic lunar south pole landing

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An Isro graphic of the lander and rover on the Moon
Image caption,An Isro graphic of the lander and rover on the Moon’s surface

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”.

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