Chandrayaan-3 continues to make progress towards its mission to the moon, even as Luna-25 suffered a crash on the lunar surface. The Russian spacecraft was expected to outpace Chandrayaan-3, but communication with the Luna-25 got snapped, leading to its free fall on the lunar surface. This setback has brought Chandrayaan-3 to the center stage as it prepares for its planned touchdown on the South Pole of the moon.
Race for the Moon’s South Pole
Russia was expected to become the first nation to land on the lunar South Pole on August 21, surpassing India. However, with the crash of Luna-25, India now has the opportunity to achieve this historic feat. Chandrayaan-3’s Lander is currently orbiting the moon and will attempt a soft landing on August 23.
While Russia has previously landed on the moon, the focus now lies on what ISRO can achieve once it lands on the lunar surface. According to space expert Group Captain Ajey Lele (retd), what matters now is the exploration and research conducted after landing, rather than simply being the first to land.
Luna-25’s Crash and its Impact
The crash of Luna-25 is considered a major loss to the scientific community and the study of lunar exploration. The Russian lander was designed to operate for a year near the South Pole, collecting crucial data and extracting rock samples for further analysis on Earth. Unfortunately, all efforts to locate the crashed spacecraft and restore contact have remained unsuccessful.
Experts believe that space exploration can only happen through international cooperation. Initially, Russia was expected to collaborate with ISRO for Chandrayaan-2, but that did not materialize. However, ISRO took on the challenge and successfully launched Chandrayaan-2 in 2019. Four years later, Russia joined the journey with its lunar mission. Despite the setback of Luna-25’s crash, Chandrayaan-3 and Luna-25 found themselves circling the moon at the same time with their sights set on a lunar landing.
Chandrayaan-3’s Opportunity to Create History
Despite having fewer resources and funds compared to major spacefaring nations, ISRO has a unique opportunity to achieve a landmark landing on the moon. Several countries have failed in recent lunar touchdown attempts, but ISRO has learned from its past experiences and demonstrated its capabilities. Multiple ground tests and sensor checks have been conducted to ensure confidence in the mission’s success.
Dr. P Sreekumar, former director of ISRO’s Space Science Program Office, stated that landing in space is always challenging and uncertainties persist until the last moment. However, thorough testing and preparations have been done to increase confidence in Chandrayaan-3’s success. The spacecraft has been given additional fuel and flexibility to hover over the landing location before touchdown.
A successful landing by Chandrayaan-3 could open up new opportunities for India as a go-to destination for cost-effective space missions in the future. It would also pave the way for further exploration and the collection of lunar samples.