One step closer: ISRO executes orbit reduction manoeuvre, brings Chandrayaan-3 closer to moon

ISRO said it will carry out the next such operation on August 9. The soft Moon landing is expected on 23 August.

BySouth First Desk

Published Aug 07, 2023 | 9:09 AM Updated Aug 07, 2023 | 9:09 AM

Chandrayaan 3 launch

India’s Mission Moon is on track, with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) announcing that it successfully executed an “orbit reduction manoeuvre” of the country’s third moon mission, the Chandrayaan-3. The manoeuvre was executed a day after the spacecraft went into lunar orbit.

“The spacecraft successfully underwent a planned orbit reduction manoeuvre. The retrofiring of engines brought it closer to the moon’s surface, now to 170 km x 4,313 km.

“The next operation to further reduce the orbit is scheduled for August 9, 2023, between 1300 and 1400 hrs IST,” ISRO tweeted on Sunday, 6 August.

The space agency said it will carry out the next such operation on 9 August.

There will be three more moon-bound manoeuvres till 17 August, following which the landing module, comprising the lander and rover, will break away from the propulsion module.

ISRO’s third lunar expedition in 15 years, Chandrayaan-3 embarked on its month-long journey towards the moon on 14 July, piggybacking on the agency’s latest heavy-lift launch vehicle LVM3-M4 — nicknamed “Fat Boy” — from the spaceport Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.

The final descent

As part of its next steps, “de-orbiting manoeuvres” will be executed on the lander before the final descent on the moon. According to ISRO, the “soft landing” on the moon’s surface is scheduled for 23 August.

In over five moves in the three weeks since the launch, ISRO had been lifting the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft into orbits farther and farther away from the Earth.

On 1 August, ISRO successfully carried out a key manoeuvre — the slingshot, which shoots the spacecraft from the Earth’s orbit and propels it on the its path to the moon.

“Chandrayaan-3 completes its orbits around the Earth and heads towards the moon,” the national space agency had said, adding, “Next stop: The moon.”

With the manoeuvre, the spacecraft went into what is called a translunar orbit and put it on course to come into the Moon’s sphere of gravitational influence.

A special mission

Through the Chandrayaan-3 mission, ISRO’s scientists are aiming at mastering the technology of soft landing on the surface of the moon.

A successful mission would mean India becomes only the fourth country to accomplish the challenge, after the United States, China, and the former Soviet Union.

Chandrayaan-3 is a follow-on mission to Chandrayaan-2, comprises an indigenous propulsion module, a lander module, and a rover to develop and demonstrate new technologies required for inter-planetary missions.

The propulsion module will carry the lander and rover configuration till 100 km of lunar orbit.

The propulsion module has a Spectro-polarimetry of Habitable Planet Earth (SHAPE) payload to study the spectral and polarimetric measurements of the earth from the lunar orbit.

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

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

(With PTI inputs)