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Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Chandrayaan-3 soft landing on Moon - Success story of the Nation

வானம் வசப்பட்டது - நிலவில் இந்தியா 

Maha Bharath will remember this day 23rd Aug 2023 forever .. .. Today the Nation created history with the soft landing of ISRO’s third Moon mission Chandrayaan-3’s lander module (LM)

Today India has become only the fourth Nation to land on Moon and the first ever to reach the unchartered South pole of Earth’s natural satellite.   A mission that started on July 14 has fructified and made millions of the Nation proud. 

A beaming proud  Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji  said : This is not India’s success alone, but of the whole world and humanity.  This is historic moment and sounds the bugle for a developed India.  With this India has set new, ambitious targets for future: Appreciating the Scientists, Modiji further talked  about missions to explore Sun, other planets. He added that  this will change all narratives and stories about moon 

The ISRO mission made history as the first one to land on the lunar south pole. Only three other countries have conducted a lunar soft-landing in history.  After a 40-day journey starting from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) Chandrayaan-3 mission has landed successfully. The Vikram lander made a soft lunar landing at 6.04 PM IST on August 23.  ISRO started the automatic landing sequence at 5.44 PM IST. The Vikram lander is now used its onboard computers and logic to try to make a soft landing on the Moon.  


The Chandrayaan-3 mission is the follow-up to the Chandrayaan-2 mission of 2019, when the Vikram lander crashed into the lunar surface. The primary objective of the mission is to showcase the space agency’s capability to complete a soft-landing on the Moon. With the mission, India has joined a small and exclusive club of countries that have managed to soft land on the Moon. So far, the club has three members—the United States, the Soviet Union and China.  

Important personnel :  ISRO Chairman Mr S Somanath assumed leadership of ISRO in Jan 2022 and became a pivotal figure in India's ambitious moon mission.  Mr P Veeramuthuvel took charge as the Project Director of Chandrayaan-3 in 2019.  Ms Kalpana K kept the Chandrayaan-3 team working despite the hardships of the Covid pandemic.  Ms M Vanitha was project director for the Chandrayaan-2 mission. Sri M Sankaran is considered the powerhouse of ISRO because of his expertise in making novel power systems and solar arrays that go on to power satellites.  V Narayanan, Director, Liquid Propulsion Systems Center, Thiruvananthapuram also played a pivotal role.  BN Ramakrishna, is the  Director, ISRO Telemetry Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC), Bengaluru.  Mr S Unnikrishnan Nair, is the Director Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) – of course there are many many others.  

Every one was talking about soft-landing.  A soft landing refers to the controlled descent and subsequent touchdown of a spacecraft on the lunar surface without causing significant damage to either the craft or its scientific instruments. It is achieved by reducing the spacecraft's speed gradually, allowing it to touch down gently. Such landings ensure a gentle interaction with the Moon's rugged terrain, enabling the collection of valuable data, exploration, and potentially serving as a precursor to human missions.  

In a powered descent, the Vikram lander hurtled  towards the moon surface at a velocity of 1.68 km per second which is nearly 6048 km per hour -which is almost ten times the velocity of an airplane.  Then the lander slowed down with engines still firing but lander becoming  almost horizontal to the surface of the moon - this is called the rough braking phase which lasts for about 11 minutes.  Even a tiny mistake in how the spaceship descends can cause it to crash or get damaged. It was in the fine braking phase, when the Vikram lander during the Chandrayaan-2 launch went out of control and tumbled to a crash.  

Today Nation is rejoicing as the lander Vikram made a soft calculated landing.  The Lander and its Rover ‘Pragyan’  will be busy for the next 14 days.     

Like many others I too was expecting to see some visual footages – now read that lander Vikram kicked up a large cloud of moon dust which will take long to settle due to the extremely weak gravitational force the Moon exerts, but will scatter away on its own momentum.    The rover Pragyan will emerge from the lander three-and-a-half hours after the touch down on the surface.  ISRO is waiting for the fine dust to settle down as it would other coat the cameras and other sensitive instruments – so Nation is waiting for another 3 hours + to ensure that the dust settles and we start seeing images and get greater details of Moon.

Great day for the Nation – Great work by our Scientists.  Jai Hind - Proud to be Indian 

With regards –  S. Sampathkumar
23.8.2023 @ 6.45 pm. 

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