The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) achieved a significant milestone as it carried out a planned orbit reduction manoeuvre for the GSLV Mark 3 (LVM 3) heavy-lift launch vehicle, which had successfully lifted off with the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft. This manoeuvre effectively positioned the spacecraft closer to the Moon’s surface, with another operation of this nature scheduled for August 9.
In a tweet on Sunday, ISRO announced, “The spacecraft successfully underwent a planned orbit reduction manoeuvre. The retrofitting of engines brought it closer to the Moon’s surface, now to 170 km x 4313 km. The next operation to further reduce the orbit is scheduled for August 9, between 13:00 and 14:00 hours IST.”
Simultaneously, ISRO unveiled the first images of the Moon captured by Chandrayaan-3, marking a significant achievement for India’s third lunar mission.
Chandrayaan-3, which entered the Moon’s orbit on Saturday, captured breathtaking images of the lunar surface, as shared by the mission’s official Twitter handle, “The Moon, as viewed by #Chandrayaan3 spacecraft during Lunar Orbit Insertion (LOI) on August 5, 2023.”
Having covered around two-thirds of the distance to the Moon since its launch, Chandrayaan-3 successfully established its Lunar orbit, confirming ISRO’s continued advancements in space exploration.
Mounted atop the GSLV Mark 3 heavy-lift launch vehicle, Chandrayaan-3 initiated its journey on July 14 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Andhra Pradesh’s Sriharikota. This achievement solidified India’s position as the fourth country, after the US, China, and Russia, to successfully land a spacecraft on the lunar surface, demonstrating the nation’s capability for safe and precise lunar landings.
Upon its anticipated landing, Chandrayaan-3 is set to operate for the duration of one lunar day, equivalent to approximately 14 Earth days.
The development of Chandrayaan-3 commenced in January 2020, initially aiming for a launch in 2021. However, the unexpected challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic led to unforeseen delays in the mission’s timeline.
Chandrayaan-3 represents ISRO’s determined follow-up to the Chandrayaan-2 mission, which faced complications during its soft landing on the lunar surface in 2019, leading to an assessment that it had not fully achieved its core mission objectives.