Successful orbit entry for India's Chandrayaan-3 lunar mission
Steph Deschamps / August 6, 2023
An unmanned rocket launched by India entered the Moon's orbit on Saturday, four years after a first failed controlled lunar landing attempt, announced the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).
If the rest of the current mission goes according to plan, the mission should land near the Moon's little-explored south pole between August 23 and 24.
The world's most populous country, with over 1.4 billion inhabitants, would then join the club that has successfully completed a controlled lunar landing, which currently includes only Russia, the USA and China.
Developed by ISRO, Chandrayaan-3 comprises a lander named Vikram, meaning "valour" in Sanskrit, and a rover, a mobile robot, named Pragyan, meaning "wisdom" in Sanskrit, which will explore the Moon's surface.
Chandrayaan-3 took much longer to reach the Moon than the manned Apollo missions of the 1960s and 1970s, which arrived in a matter of days.
The Indian rocket is much less powerful than the Saturn V, the rocket used in the American Apollo lunar program. It completed five or six elliptical orbits around the Earth to gain speed, before being sent on a month-long lunar trajectory.
Since the launch of a probe into lunar orbit in 2008, India's space program has expanded considerably. In 2014, India became the first Asian country to put a satellite into orbit around Mars, and three years later launched 104 satellites in a single mission.
By next year, the Asian giant is set to launch a three-day manned mission in orbit around the Earth.