Chandrayaan-3 Achieves Near-Circular Orbit Around Moon: ISRO

In a first, India's mooncraft 'Vikram' will land in the South Pole of the moon, where water molecules have been found.

Chandrayaan 3 enters successfully enters moons orbit

Chandrayaan-3 underwent another orbit reduction maneuver on Monday as the spacecraft achieved near-circular orbit around moon, ISRO said.

"Orbit circularisation phase commences. Precise maneuvre performed today has achieved a near-circular orbit of 150 kmx177 km. The next operation is planned for August 16, 2023, around 0830 Hrs. IST," ISRO said.

Earlier, India's ambitious third Moon mission's 'Chandrayaan-3' spacecraft successfully underwent another orbit reduction maneuver, bringing it even closer to the Moon's surface.

Post its launch on July 14, Chandrayaan-3 had entered into lunar orbit on August 5. 

"Even closer to the moon’s surface. Chandrayaan-3's orbit is reduced to 174 km x 1437 km following a maneuver performed today," ISRO had said. 
ISRO had also released a video of the Moon 'as viewed by Chandrayaan-3'.

"The Moon, as viewed by Chandrayaan3 spacecraft during Lunar Orbit Insertion (LOI) on August 5, 2023,"ISRO had said.

The video was released by the space agency hours before the second major manoeuvre.

Earlier, Chandrayaan-3 was successfully inserted into the lunar orbit.

The required manoeuvre was done from an ISRO facility.

"Chandrayaan-3 has been successfully inserted into the lunar orbit. A retro-burning at the Perilune was commanded from the Mission Operations Complex (MOX), ISTRAC ( ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network), Bengaluru," the agency had said.

Perilune is the spacecraft's closest point to the moon.

ISRO also shared a message from the satellite to its centres, which read, "MOX, ISTRAC, this is Chandrayaan-3. I am feeling lunar gravity." Over five moves in the three weeks since the launch on July 14, ISRO has been lifting the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft into orbits farther and farther away from the Earth.

Then, on August 1 in a key maneuver -- a slingshot move -- the craft was sent successfully towards the Moon from Earth's orbit.

Following this trans-lunar injection, the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft escaped from orbiting the Earth and began following a path that would take it to the vicinity of the moon.

Earlier, in July this year, India's Chandrayaan-3 lifted off from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.

The mission assumes significance for country’s space exploration.

The mission could be a major success for India and the country would achieve a controlled landing on the moon, after Russia, the United States, and China.

The moon lander Vikram is perched on a Mark 3 heavy-lift launch vehicle -- dubbed the Bahubali rocket.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had hailed the launch as a "new chapter" in India's space odyssey and said it has elevated the dreams and ambitions of every Indian.

"Chandrayaan-3 scripts a new chapter in India's space odyssey. It soars high, elevating the dreams and ambitions of every Indian," PM Modi had said.

The journey from Earth to the moon for the spacecraft is estimated to take about a month and the landing is expected on August 23.

It stated upon landing, it will operate for one lunar day, which is approximately 29 Earth days.

The Chandrayaan-3 will have three major components — a lander, a rover, and a propulsion model. It will be using the Orbiter from Chandrayaan-2 which still exists in the lunar atmosphere.

In a first, India's mooncraft 'Vikram' will land in the South Pole of the moon, where water molecules have been found. The finding, made during India's first moon mission in 2008, had startled the world.  

Vikram is meant to have a safe, soft landing. The lander will then release the rover Pragyan, which will roam the moon's surface for a lunar day and conduct scientific experiments.

The latest iteration of the Chandrayaan comes four years after an earlier attempt failed, with the ground crew losing contact moments before landing.

The ISRO's second lunar mission Chandrayaan-2 failed while attempting to land in 2019. However, to avoid past failures, ISRO has corporate a series of changes in the upcoming mission.

"The main lacuna in the last Chandrayaan-2 mission was that there were off-nominal conditions that were initiated in the system. Everything was not nominal. And the craft was not able to handle the off-nominal condition for a safe landing," the report quoted ISRO Chief S Somnath as having said.