By Alvin Paul and Varun Pillai
Using a propulsive maneuver known as trans-lunar injection orbit, on August 23, 2023, the Indian Space Research Organization’s Chandrayaan-3 successfully landed on the south pole of the moon. Based on data from prior ISRO missions including the Chandrayaan 1 and 2 respectively, the third iteration of the project includes improved sensors, software and propulsion systems. Many believe the achievements of the Chandrayaan-3 could influence the future of space travel for public and private space organizations across the globe.
Source by Sarah Wilson
India has successfully landed on the moon with ISRO's Chandrayaan mission. This achievement has garnered celebration from around the world.
The main purpose of ISRO’s latest endeavor was to map a greater portion of the south pole region of the moon. Upon the landing of the Vikram and Pragyaan rovers on August 23, the command center in Bengaluru began operations. When traversing the many craters that litter the south pole region, the rover’s “rocker bogie” wheel mechanism, which enables all of the wheels to move independently, allowed them to traverse the region with ease.
Since the lander and rover require sunlight to charge their batteries, on September 4 the ISRO reported that both the lander and rover were put to sleep as the sun began to set on the moon. The lander and rover are expected to remain in this state until reawakened once the sun was in a favorable position. However, on September 29, ISRO Chief S. Somanath reported that efforts to re-establish contact with the spacecraft had failed.
However, the relatively inexpensive cost of the Chandrayaan-3 mission concerns some NHP students and faculty. The entire expedition cost approximately $75 million, a significantly smaller budget compared to expeditions from other countries. Russia’s Luna-25 expedition cost roughly $133 million while Japan’s SLIM expedition cost about $120 million.
One of the reasons for the low cost is the relatively low weight of both the lander and the rover. The entire payload weighed approximately 1752 kilograms, significantly lighter than similar expeditions.
“I find the affordability of the mission to be very interesting,” senior Grace Heskial said. “It makes me question how they were able to make it happen at such a low price point, as well as why the other missions have been so different and expensive. With that said, I find it great that missions like these are able to be more affordable and hope for the best in future space exploration in a cost effective, as well as ethical and safe, manner.”
Renewed space exploration efforts from India, Russia and Japan, combined with advancements from the United States, China and South Korea, cause many to believe the world is entering a modern space race.
“I hope we can do things with consensus when it comes to space so as not to weaponize it,” social studies chairperson Mr. Galvin said. “This may be one of these great opportunities to be able to find consensus within the world and to use this as a way to kind of foster peace. However, there's that tiny bit of trepidation that starts a little bit of a space arms race, and that makes me a little nervous.”
Despite these setbacks and concerns, many believe the Chandrayaan-3 mission has and will continue to have a lasting political impact internationally.
“It’s interesting to see how India has grown exponentially over the years politically and the impact that it might have on the West,” senior Guranaad Kaur said. “Especially in terms of space missions because it was typically dominated by the West previously. I could see a lot of competition arising. I think it’s definitely going to get really competitive in the future especially as privatized methods are becoming a lot more popular in terms of space travel and space exploration. And so having this new challenger enter the playing field… might really make the competition stiffer in terms of discovery.”