New Delhi follows Beijing's lead and intends to land its technology on Selene's soil

India attempts to touch the Moon in August with the Chandrayaan-3 mission

PHOTO/ISRO - Los técnicos de la ISRO supervisan con alto grado de detalle la ruta de Chandrayaan-3 para lograr el éxito de la misión y evitar que se estrelle, como ocurrió con su antecesor en diciembre de 2019
photo_camera PHOTO/ISRO - ISRO technicians monitor the route of Chandrayaan-3 in great detail to ensure the success of the mission and prevent it from crashing, as its predecessor did in December 2019

The Indian government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is rivalling Xi Jinping's China in every area of the economic, political, diplomatic and military arena in which it can, including space dominance.

And if Beijing has several robotic vehicles on the lunar surface, New Delhi wants to be no less and its Space Research Organisation or ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) has its Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft on the way. Its two main objectives are to land the Vikram surface module on our natural satellite and to enable the small six-wheeled vehicle named Pragyan inside it to descend and explore its surroundings.

Weighing 3,895 kg at liftoff, the Chandrayaan-3 probe is now on a transfer trajectory from the Earth to the Moon, where it will reach its orbit in early August, according to ISRO forecasts. In the following dates it will describe successive descending orbits and from 17 August it will release the Vikram module, which will fly solo. When it is about 100 kilometres from the lunar soil, which will be on the 23rd, Indian technicians will give the order to start the automatic descent in an attempt to make India the fourth nation to touch the Moon.

PHOTO/ISRO - La sonda Chandrayaan-3 se encuentra en una trayectoria de transferencia de la Tierra a la Luna, a cuya 贸rbita llegar谩 en los primeros d铆as de agosto para iniciar el descenso el d铆a 23 de ese mismo mes
PHOTO/ISRO - The Chandrayaan-3 probe is on a transfer trajectory from the Earth to the Moon, which it will orbit in early August to begin its descent on 23 August

Narendra Modi will be watching the critical process of Vikram's arrival on the surface of Selene with close attention, as he was unable to watch live the liftoff of Chandrayaan-3 aboard the indigenously designed and produced LVM-3 heavy launcher. It happened on July 14 at 10.05 a.m. local time (2.05 p.m. local time) to the applause of thousands of Indians gathered around the Satish Dhawan Space Centre on the island of Sriharikota in the southeastern state of Andhra Pradesh.

The Prime Minister was in Paris that day and time, alongside President Emmanuel Macron, as the guest of honour at France's National Day parade. In the rostrum, the French Chief of Defence Staff, General Thierry Burkhard, reported the successful launch to Narendra Modi, who tweeted at the military parade that Chandrayaan-3 "carries the hopes and dreams of our country". And so it does.  

PHOTO/MEA Photo Gallery - El primer ministro Modi se encontraba en el desfile de la Fiesta Nacional de Francia en la fecha y hora del despegue. Fue el JEMAD franc茅s, general Thierry Burkhard, quien le inform贸 del 茅xito del lanzamiento
PHOTO/MEA Photo Gallery - Prime Minister Modi was at the French National Day parade on the date and time of the launch. It was the French JEMAD, General Thierry Burkhard, who informed him of the successful launch

With the blessings of the Biden Administration

The most likely scenario is that Vikram - weighing 1,750 kilograms - will get its five retro rockets to cushion its fall speed to less than 2 metres per second, about 7.2 kilometres per hour. If so, its four support brackets must withstand the impact with the ground near the Manzinus U crater at the lunar South Pole. 

Indian engineers have equipped Vikram with a radar altimeter and a laser altimeter to calculate its altitude on the ground during its descent on the Moon. It also incorporates a camera to see the ground in detail and prevent it from crashing or landing on a slope or rock.

If the ISRO achieves its goal, the world's most populous country will become the world's second Asian power and the fourth world in touching the Moon, after Russia, United States and China. In case contrary, will add a new and second failure to the obtained with Chandraya-2, the December 6, 2019 December 6 starred against the lunar surface after producing a lunar anomaly in its navigation software and lose control when it was 2.1 kilometres from the ground.

PHOTO/ISRO - Vikram desplegar谩 una rampa una vez posada sobre el suelo lunar, por la que descender谩 el peque帽o veh铆culo de seis ruedas de nombre Pragyan, de 26 kilos, que ha viajado en su interior
PHOTO/ISRO - Vikram will deploy a ramp once landed on the lunar soil, down which the small six-wheeled vehicle named Pragyan, weighing 26 kilos, which has travelled inside him, will descend

The Indian government wants to make it clear that it is closely following in the footsteps of China, which on December 14, 2013, became the first Asian nation and third in the world to land on the moon with its 1,200-kilogram Chang'e-3 probe and its 140-kilogram six-wheeled Yutu rover.

Chandrayaan-3 has set off for the Moon with the blessings of NASA and the Biden Administration. On 21 June, some three weeks before the flight, the Government of India, through the signature of its ambassador to Washington, Taranjit Sandhu, signed the Artemis agreements by which New Delhi endorses the principles defined by the United States to guide the steps of cooperation in space exploration. 


PHOTO/ISRO - La astronave Vikram a punto de ser fijada sobre el m贸dulo de propulsi贸n antes de su integraci贸n en la parte superior del lanzador pesado LVM-3, nueva denominaci贸n del cohete indio GSLV Mk III
PHOTO/ISRO - The Vikram spacecraft about to be fixed on the propulsion module before its integration on top of the LVM-3 heavy launcher, the new name of the Indian GSLV Mk III rocket

Russia and Japan to fly to the Moon in August

The Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft was developed by ISRO and consists of two structures. One is the 2,148-kilogram propulsion module, responsible for landing the 1,752-kilogram Vikram on the lunar soil. It will then deploy a ramp onto which the small, 26-kilogram six-wheeled vehicle named Pragyan, which is housed inside Vikram, will descend.

Indian technicians have scheduled the mission to be operational for at least 14 Earth days, the equivalent of the period of sunlight in a lunar day, which is 28 Earth days. Without a heating system for Vikram and Pragyan to survive the intense cold of lunar nights, both rovers will be able to generate electrical power to run their on-board equipment as long as their solar panels receive sunlight. 

PHOTO/NASA-Bill Ingalls - El embajador de India en Washington, Taranjit Sandhu, suscribe los acuerdos Artemis semanas antes del despegue de Chandrayaan-3 en presencia del administrador de NASA, Bill Nelson
PHOTO/NASA-Bill Ingalls - India's ambassador to Washington, Taranjit Sandhu, signs the Artemis agreements weeks before the liftoff of Chandrayaan-3 in the presence of NASA Administrator Bill Nelson

Vikram carries three science payloads: a probe to measure plasma ions and electrons near the surface; an experiment to determine the thermal properties of the lunar surface near the polar region; and a seismograph to delineate the structure of the lunar crust and mantle.

The rover has two navigation cameras to allow technicians on the ground to visualise its progress across the lunar surface. It also incorporates a spectroscope and an X-ray spectrometer to learn and record the chemical composition of the minerals that make up the soil and rocks around the landing site.

PHOTO/TsENKI/Roscosmos - La pr贸xima misi贸n lunar es la rusa Luna-25, cuyo despegue desde el cosm贸dromo siberiano de Vostochny est谩 programado para el 11 de agosto
PHOTO/TsENKI/Roscosmos - The next lunar mission is Russia's Luna-25, scheduled to take off from the Siberian Vostochny Cosmodrome on 11 August

But the moon fever continues for the rest of the summer. Igor Mitrofanov, head of the nuclear planetology department at the Space Research Institute (IKI), has confirmed that Russia plans to launch its 1,750-kilogram Luna 25 descent module from the Siberian Vostochny Cosmodrome on 11 August. Japan plans to launch its SLIM mission, a 590-kilogram module also due to land on Selene, from its Tanegashima base on 26 August.

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