The atmosphere at the mission control centre in Sriharikota was filled with excitement and applause as India’s Chandrayaan-3 rocket took off at 14:35 IST (09:05 GMT/10:05 BST). The successful execution of this mission will make India the fourth country in the world to achieve a soft landing on the Moon.
Chandrayaan-3 aims to land a rover on the little-explored south pole of the Moon. The rocket blasted off just after 09:05 GMT (10:05 BST; 14:35 local time). If all goes according to plan, the rover is scheduled to touch down on the lunar surface on either August 23 or 24. This achievement would place India in an elite group alongside the US, the former Soviet Union, and China as the only nations to successfully land on the Moon.
The launch of Chandrayaan-3 has evoked a sense of pride and excitement among Indians. Many took to Twitter to express their awe and admiration for the mission. Prime Minister Narendra Modi referred to the mission as “remarkable” and highlighted its significance in carrying the hopes and dreams of the nation. He tweeted earlier, “14th July 2023 will always be etched in golden letters as far as India’s space sector is concerned.”
Thousands of people gathered to witness the lift-off of Chandrayaan-3. With umbrellas providing shade from the sun, signs displaying support, and Indian flags proudly waved.
India’s third lunar mission program
Today’s launch marks the third mission in India’s lunar exploration program. The country’s first Moon mission, Chandrayaan-1, took place in 2008. It conducted a comprehensive search for water on the lunar surface and made significant discoveries. However, establishing the presence of an atmosphere during the daytime, as shared by project director Mylswamy Annadurai.
Although Chandrayaan-1 did not achieve a soft landing, it provided crucial insights from orbit. The mission released an impactor that collided with the Moon’s surface, allowing the orbiting spacecraft to analyze the resulting debris.
Chandrayaan-2, launched in July 2019, experienced partial success. While the orbiter continues to orbit and study the Moon. Moreover, the rover, unfortunately, crashed during the landing attempt.
Chandrayaan-3, weighing 3,900kg and costing 6.1 billion rupees ($75 million; £58 million). It shares the same objectives as its predecessor – to achieve a soft landing on the Moon’s surface. The mission represents India’s continued commitment to lunar exploration and scientific advancements.