India’s national space agency has successfully launched a rocket towards the Moon in its reattempt to land a rover on the lunar surface.
Chandrayaan-3 is the Indian Space Research Organisation’s third Moon mission – built to a budget of just US$75 million – and takes place four years after its second program failed in its attempt to ‘soft land’ on the Moon in 2019.
Its first moon shot was in 2009 when it successfully put a probe into lunar orbit.
Setting off on Friday from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre near Chennai in south east India on board a LVM3 heavy rocket, Chandrayaan-3’s mission payload includes a propulsion module, lander and rover, which it will attempt to land on the Moon’s south pole at the end of August.
Only three nations – the US, Soviet Union and China – have successfully landed material on the Moon. Others like Japan, India and private enterprise have previously attempted landings but ultimately lost control or contact with their vehicles. One of those was Chandrayaan-2’s failed 2019 attempt.
Chandrayaan-3’s landing target is near its predecessor’s crash site.
Once landed, it will spend 14 days analysing material at the Moon’s unexplored south pole and scouting for possible water deposits within craters that never see sunlight. Data from its scientific experiments will be relayed to ground stations operated by NASA and the European Space Agency.