After an encouraging first failure in 2019, the Indian space agency plans to do it again next August.
During the fall of 2019, India came very close to settling at the table of the major aeronautical nations with its Chandrayaan-2 mission, the objective of which was to land the Vikram lander on our satellite. Unfortunately, this great first was cut short when the probe experienced an unfortunate malfunction in its propulsion system. Unable to brake during the approach phase, it therefore ended its race with a crash; today, all that remains of the craft is likely a crater on the surface of the Moon.
A failure that has nothing infamous; after all, aerospace is a cutting-edge industry that leaves no room for error. Even the big names in the discipline did not achieve their goals on the first try; the United States, for example, only succeeded on the fourth try. Much more is therefore needed to overcome the enthusiasm of ISRO, the Indian space agency. Its engineers had immediately announced that they intended to repeat the experiment as soon as possible; after being long delayed due to the pandemic, this deadline is finally starting to take shape. In oneSpotted by the Times of India, ISRO has indeed announced that it intends to launch its successor Chandrayaan-3 next August.
India’s third lunar mission to be launched in August 2022, Govt reveals
Lunar spacecraft will be launched on-board GSLV Mk 3, India’s heaviest operational rocket, will have lander & rover carried on propulsion module
— Sidharth.MP (@sdhrthmp)
ISRO has taken note of its errors
The institution as a whole has taken note of its mistakes, if we are to believe the words of Jitendra Singh, a senior Indian official in charge of space. “This time we’ll be more careful”, he warns at the outset. And even if they say they are confident, this means considering a new worst-case scenario.
For this reason, they have redesigned the entire device that will allow the probe to land. This new version will be entitled to new “legs”, stronger and better cushioned than those of the late Vikram. They also carry a new instrument that will allow the machine to more accurately estimate its approach speed. This will allow the four engines (against five on Vikram) to better approach the final descent to land gently.
A new trio attacking the Moon
This Chandrayaan-3 mission will also carry a satellite which will remain in orbit around the Moon. But it will not include any specific scientific instrument. All the necessary equipment is already available on site, in another satellite already in orbit of the Moon. This had been launched at the same time as Vikram during the Chandrayaan-2 mission; he was therefore in the front row to witness the death of his mission partner. He will therefore probably be delighted to be joined by two new friends, after more than two years of producing science alone in the frigid immensity of space.
Will Chandrayaan-3 finally be the decisive mission that will bring its letters of nobility to ISRO? We wish them, because it could also help this extremely dynamic country; but to be sure, we’ll see you at the launch next August, a few days before Chandrayaan-2’s third anniversary.