India has returned to the moon following the launch of a rocket from Sriharikota on Friday afternoon, local time. The launch site is located off the East Coast.
Chandrayaan-3 is a mission that is mostly a repeat of India’s first attempt to land a robot spacecraft on the lunar surface nearly four years earlier. That effort ended with , a crash, and a crater.
Chandrayaan-3 takes place in the midst of renewed interest to explore the moon. Both the United States and China plan to send astronauts in the next few years. A half dozen robotic missions could be sent by Russia, Japan, the United States, and China this year or next.
India’s pride in its own space program is heightened by the success of the Chandrayaan-3 robotic lander and rover. In India, a group of commercial space start ups are also emerging.
India and the United States reached an agreement last month to send a joint space station mission next year. Indian Space Research Organization, India’s NASA equivalent, is also working on its own spacecraft that will take astronauts into orbit.
The Indian space base, located on an island just north of Chennai, launched a rocket named Launch Vehicle Mark III at 2:35 pm local time (5:05 am Eastern time) on Friday.
The rocket rose in the air as crowds waved Indian flags, colorful umbrellas and cheered. Sixteen minutes after the rocket’s upper-stage separated, a round clapping and cheering erupted at the mission control centre.
Jitendra Singh said, in his remarks following the launch: “It’s a glorious moment for India, and a destiny moment for us all here in Sriharikota, who are part of history being made.”
In the weeks to come, the spacecraft’s engines will be fired in a series of firings that will elongate the orbit of the spacecraft before it heads toward the Moon. The landing attempt will take place on August 23 or 24 to coincide with the sunrise at the landing area in the south polar region of the moon.
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Chandrayaan means “moon craft” in Hindi. Chandrayaan-1 was an orbiter launched in 2008 and the mission lasted for less than a year. Chandrayaan-2 launched successfully on July 22, 2019. The spacecraft entered orbit successfully around the moon.