Moon Mission

Syllabus: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.

Key points of the moon mission

  • Chandrayaan-3 aims to become the first mission to land near the lunar South Pole.
  • The spacecraft, which now makes its way to the Moon, has three main parts—the propulsion module and the lander module which also contains the rover module.
  • Chandrayaan-3 has taken slightly less time to reach the lunar orbit compared to Chandrayaan-2, which reached this destination in 30 days.
  • This is the third time that an Indian spacecraft has entered lunar orbit. The previous two Chandrayaan missions had also reached this phase.
  • But Chandrayaan-3 will spend more time in the lunar orbit, before attempting the soft landing.
  • It is attempting to become the first mission to land near the lunar south pole.
  • Other missions have so far landed close to the moon’s equator.
  • “The Chandrayaan-3 is going to give a quantum leap to India’s role in the global arena. The entire world is watching

what we learn from this mission will be important for the global scientific community at large,”

How the current lunar missions differ from the last moon rush

The original race

  • The 1950s and 1960s – the very dawn of the space age.
  • The moon missions began immediately after the then Soviet Union succeeded in sending out the first ever spacecraft, Sputnik, in 1957.
  • Luna 3 – flew by the moon in 1959 and took the first pictures of the lunar surface.
  • The 1960s – competition between the US and the then USSR to go to the moon
  • 1969 – touchdown of Apollo 11 (since then, six Apollo missions landed two human beings each)

Rediscovering the moon

  • 1990 – moon exploration resumed with Japan’s first mission – did not start from where scientists had left off but almost afresh.
  • A number of other countries joined in — Japan, China, India, and later South Korea and Israel. A few others, like Saudi Arabia, are in the queue.
  • The earlier round – the desire of the two prevailing superpowers to outdo each other, win a technological race, and gain a psychological advantage – to fuel the Cold War rivalry – also extremely expensive, massively energy intensive, and very risky
  • The current round – stepping stone for larger objectives in space exploration. Better understanding of the moon, its environment and resources – fair idea on how to utilize it more fruitfully – far cheaper now (new technologies and materials) and higher degree of safety – includes exploring the possibilities of a long-term stay on the moon, possibly using it as a launch pad for travelling deeper into space
  • This round of moon missions can trigger a different kind of competition — about territory and resources among countries.
  • Luna-25 will not affect Chandrayaan: Russian space agency
  • Russia’s space agency Roscosmos – launched the Luna-25 on 10th August – from Russia’s Vostochny spaceport – expected landing on 23 August. It is static and will not move on the moon’s surface. It is the first moon mission in 47 years by Russia, the successor state of the USSR after Luna 24 in 1976. The two missions had different landing areas and there was enough space on the moon for everyone.
  • Japan’s SLIM (Smart Lander for Investigating Moon) is slated to join the party soon after, with its launch scheduled for August 26. SLIM’s landing time has not been revealed yet, but if it takes a shorter route to the moon and arrives within two weeks of its launch, this would be the first time that three spacecraft would be crawling on the lunar surface at the same time.

Two more lunar missions are scheduled to go up later this year, and at least five are in the pipeline over the next three years, including crewed missions.

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