Chandrayaan-3 Soars to New Heights,First Orbit-Raising Manoeuvre Successful

Chandrayaan-3 First Orbit-Raising Manoeuvre Successful. Image Credit: ISRO. 

July 15, 2023 - The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) achieved a significant milestone in the Chandrayaan-3 mission as it successfully performed the spacecraft's first orbit-raising manoeuvre. The manoeuvre, conducted by the ISRO Telemetry Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) in Bengaluru, placed the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft in an orbit ranging from 41,762 km to 173 km from Earth.

Following the successful orbit-raising manoeuvre, ISRO confirmed that the health of the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft is normal. This achievement marks another step forward in India's space exploration endeavors and brings the nation closer to its mission objectives.

Chandrayaan-3 is the follow-on mission to Chandrayaan-2 and aims to demonstrate India's capabilities in safe lunar landing and rover exploration. The spacecraft consists of a lander and rover configuration, which will be launched by the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV Mk III), also known as the LVM3, from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre-SHAR in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.

During its journey to the Moon, the propulsion module of Chandrayaan-3 will carry the lander and rover configuration to a lunar orbit of approximately 100 km. The propulsion module is equipped with the Spectro-polarimetry of Habitable Planet Earth (SHAPE) payload, which will study the spectral and polarimetric measurements of Earth from the lunar orbit.

The lander of Chandrayaan-3 carries several scientific payloads that will conduct experiments on the lunar surface. These payloads include Chandra's Surface Thermophysical Experiment (ChaSTE), which will measure thermal conductivity and temperature, the Instrument for Lunar Seismic Activity (ILSA), which will measure seismicity around the landing site, and the Langmuir Probe (LP), which will estimate plasma density variations. Additionally, a passive Laser Retroreflector Array provided by NASA will be used for lunar laser ranging studies.

The rover of Chandrayaan-3 will be equipped with an Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) and a Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscope (LIBS) to analyze the elemental composition of the lunar surface in the vicinity of the landing site.

With the successful completion of the first orbit-raising manoeuvre, Chandrayaan-3 is now on its way to achieving its mission objectives. The primary goals of the mission include demonstrating safe and soft landing on the lunar surface, conducting rover exploration on the Moon, and carrying out in-situ scientific experiments.

ISRO has incorporated advanced technologies in the lander module to accomplish these objectives. These technologies include laser and RF-based altimeters for precise altitude measurements, laser gyro-based inertial referencing and accelerometer package for accurate navigation and guidance, and a hazard detection and avoidance system comprising cameras and processing algorithms. The lander is also equipped with propulsion systems and mechanisms such as landing legs and a rover ramp for successful touchdown and rover deployment.

ISRO has meticulously planned and executed various lander tests to ensure the performance and functionality of these advanced technologies. These tests include integrated cold tests, integrated hot tests, and lander leg mechanism performance tests on lunar simulant test beds.

Chandrayaan-3's mission life is expected to last approximately one lunar day, equivalent to around 14 Earth days. The spacecraft will communicate with the Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN), and the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter is planned to serve as a contingency link.

As India's space program continues to advance, Chandrayaan-3 represents a significant step towards achieving the country's ambitions in lunar exploration and establishing its expertise in interplanetary missions. The successful completion of the first orbit-raising manoeuvre brings ISRO closer to realizing the mission's objectives and paves the way for further exploration and scientific discoveries on the Moon.