6:04 pm, 23 August: Chandrayaan-3 all set to ‘soft land’ on the Moon

The lander module, comprising the lander Vikram and rover Pragyan, is expected to touch down on the lunar surface on Wednesday.

BySumit Jha

Published Aug 21, 2023 | 7:30 AMUpdatedAug 21, 2023 | 7:30 AM

Earlier, ISRO had said that the touchdown would take place at 5:47 pm on 23 August. (Supplied)

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on Sunday, 20 August, said that it successfully reduced the orbit of the Chandrayaan-3 mission’s lander module, and it is expected to touch down on the surface of the Moon at 1804 hours — 6:04 pm — on 23 August.

The space agency said the lander module would undergo internal checks ahead of the planned soft landing.

The lander module (LM), comprising the lander Vikram and rover Pragyan, was earlier expected to touch down the lunar surface at 5.47 pm on 23 August. Now, it has been moved by 17 minutes.

Related: ISRO says Lander Module’s health normal, releases images of the Moon

Final deboosting

“The second and final deboosting (slowing down) operation successfully reduced the LM orbit to 25 km x 134 km. The module would undergo internal checks and await sunrise at the designated landing site. The powered descent is expected to commence on August 23, 2023, around 1745 hrs IST,” ISRO said in a post on X in the early hours of Sunday.

According to ISRO, India’s pursuit of space exploration would reach a remarkable milestone with the Chandrayaan-3 mission, poised to achieve a soft landing on the surface of the Moon.

This achievement marks a significant step forward for Indian science, engineering, technology, and industry, symbolising our nation’s progress in space exploration, it said.

This eagerly anticipated event will be broadcast live on 23 August, starting from 5.27 pm IST on multiple platforms, including the ISRO website, its YouTube channel, ISRO’s Facebook page, and DD National TV channel.

“The soft landing of Chandrayaan-3 is a monumental moment that not only fuels curiosity but also sparks a passion for exploration within the minds of our youth,” ISRO said.

“It generates a profound sense of pride and unity as we collectively celebrate the prowess of Indian science and technology. It will contribute to fostering an environment of scientific inquiry and innovation,” it said.

In light of the landing event, all schools and educational institutions across the nation are invited to actively publicise it among students and faculty, and organise a live streaming of the Chandrayaan-3 soft landing on campuses, ISRO said.

Also Read: Chandrayaan 3 starts lunar exploration journey

The separation of the propulsion module

Thirty-five days after the mission was launched on 14 July, the lander module of Chandrayaan-3 had successfully separated from the propulsion module on Thursday.

ISRO sources earlier said that after the separation, the lander would undergo “deboost” (the process of slowing down) operations to place it in an orbit where when it’s at a point closest to the Moon (Perilune) it would be at a distance of 30 kilometres and its farthest point from the Moon (Apolune) it would be 100 km away.

At this point, the soft landing on the south-polar region of the Moon will be attempted.

At around 30 km altitude, the lander would enter the powered braking phase and would begin to use its thrusters to reach the surface of the Moon, they said.

At an altitude of about 100 m, the lander would scan the surface to check whether there are any obstacles and then start descending to make a soft landing.

Also Read: Lander Module of Chandrayaan-3 successfully separates

The Chandrayaan 3

Post its launch, Chandrayaan-3 entered into lunar orbit on 5 August, subsequent orbit reduction manoeuvres were carried out on the spacecraft on 6, 9, 14 and 16 August, ahead of the separation of both its modules on 17 August.

Earlier, over five moves in the three weeks since the launch, ISRO had lifted the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft into orbits farther away from Earth.

Then, on 1 August in a key manoeuvre — a slingshot move — the spacecraft was sent successfully towards the lunar orbit from Earth’s orbit.

Following this trans-lunar injection, the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft escaped from orbiting the Earth and began following a path that would take it to the vicinity of the Moon.

Chandrayaan-3 is a follow-up mission to Chandrayaan-2 and seeks to demonstrate end-to-end capability in safe landing and roving on the lunar surface.

The mission objectives of Chandrayaan-3 are to achieve a safe and soft landing on the lunar surface, to demonstrate the rover’s mobility on the Moon, and to conduct in-situ scientific experiments.

The lander has the capability to soft land at a specified lunar site and would deploy the rover to carry out in-situ chemical analysis of the Moon’s surface during the course of its movements.

The lander and the rover are carrying scientific payloads to carry out experiments on the lunar surface.

Also Read: Chandrayaan-3 moon quest carries the hopes of a nation

(With PTI inputs)