Kathmandu: India’s third lunar mission is inching closer to the Moon’s little-explored south pole where it aims to set down a lander and rover on 23 August.
On Thursday, the lander detached from the propulsion module, which carried it close to the Moon, beginning its last phase of the mission.
Chandrayaan-3, however, may not be the first to land on the south pole if it’s beaten by a new Russian mission.
Luna-25, launched last week, is expected to land a day or two earlier.
If the Russian spacecraft – its first Moon mission since 1976 comes in nearly half a century when Russia was part of the Soviet Union – is successful in making a soft landing on 21st or 22nd August as planned, Chandrayaan-3 will have to settle for being a close second.
India, however, will still be only the fourth country to achieve a soft landing on the Moon after the US, the former Soviet Union and China.
Russia launched Luna-25 on 10 August, but propelled by the much more powerful Soyuz rocket, it escaped the Earth’s gravity in no time and reached lunar orbit on Wednesday, the Russian space agency Roscosmos announced.
Chandrayaan-3 was launched on 14 July, but it went around the Earth a few times before entering the lunar orbit on 5 August. The spacecraft has been orbiting the Moon since then, while preparing for the landing.
The two missions aiming for the Moon are being described by many as a “mini space race”.
Isro, however, told the BBC it’s not a race and the two nations will have a new ‘meeting point’ on the Moon.
(News Source: BBC)