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India’s Chandrayaan-3 Scripts History, Becoming The First Country to Soft Land successfully Near Moon’s South Pole

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Chandrayaan-3 Creates History (1)August 23, 2023 will always be remembered for the successful soft landing near moon’s South Pole by the Vikram(Valour) Lander Module (LM) of ‘Chandrayaan-3 (Moon Craft)’, making India the first country to land spacecraft near Moon’s South Pole at 70 degrees latitude.

  • It was Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) third lunar mission which resulted in unprecedented milestone in space exploration. Chandrayaan 1 was launched in 2008, and Chandrayaan 2 in 2019.
  • With this successful landing, India became the 4th country to soft land on the moon after the United States (US) with its Surveyor 1 in 1966; Soviet Union/Russia’s Luna 9 in 1966, and China with Chang’s 3 in 2013.

Landing challenges on the Moon:

A notable challenge in the mission was reducing the lander’s velocity from a height of 30 km to the final landing and reorienting the spacecraft from a horizontal to vertical direction. Also, landing at the Moon’s South Pole was challenging due to its boulder-strewn terrain, lacking the flat expanses of the equatorial regions

  • However, ISRO achieved it by managing to navigate this terrain by briefly hovering Chandrayaan-3 at 850 m (2,800 ft.) above the surface, searching for a suitable landing spot.


i.Developed by ISRO, Chandrayaan-3 consists of indigenous LM Vikram, Propulsion Module (PM) and Rover named Pragyaan (Wisdom).

  • As Vikram settles on the moon, Pragyaan rover comes out from the LM and rolls onto the lunar surface to start analyzing lunar soil and rocks.

ii.The mission life of LM & Rover is One lunar day (~14 Earth days), and their Landing Site (Prime) is 4 km x 2.4 km 69.367621 S, 32.348126 E.Specs & Roles of Lander & Rover (1)Mission Overview and Launch:

Chandrayaan-3 was launched on July 14, 2023, via the Launch Vehicle Mark-3 (LVM 3 ) rocket from SDSC SHAR (Satish Dhawan Space Centre- Sriharikota Range) in Andhra Pradesh (AP).

Namakkal’s Contribution to Lunar Exploration:

Namakkal, a district in Tamil Nadu (TN), played a pivotal role in this achievement. Its unique soil, similar to the Southern Pole of lunar surface’s Anorthosite(a type of intrusive igneous rock) type, was supplied to ISRO for testing purposes. Since 2012, Namakkal has collaborated with ISRO, aiding in testing and refining lunar mission capabilities.

Why is Moon’s Southern Region chosen for landing?

The moon’s South Pole region has been chosen because of a possibility of presence of water/ice molecules in the deep craters in this region. This was indicated by the Chandrayaan-1 mission.

  • There had been speculation that permanently shadowed craters in the South Pole might be frozen lakes.
  • The presence of water ice that could support a future space station.
  • Also, the conditions on this region of the Moon could hold clues about the early solar system and the history of Earth.

What’s next?

Now, ISRO is preparing for one more lunar mission, namely ‘LUPEX, or Lunar Polar Exploration’ in collaboration with Japanese space agency, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) for 2024-25. It involves the development of a Rover by JAXA and a Lander by ISRO.

  • The rover will carry the instruments of ISRO, JAXA, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and European Space Agency (ESA).


To explore the lunar polar region’s potential for sustainable bases, study lunar water-ice resources, and showcase surface exploration tech like vehicular transport and overnight survival.

Key Point:

The Ahmedabad, Gujarat-based Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), a unit of the Department of Space, has proposed several instruments for the LUPEX mission to conduct surface and subsurface measurements in the Moon’s permanently shadowed polar region. These include the following:

i.Permittivity and Thermo-physical investigation for Moon’s Aquatic Scout (PRATHIMA) – It seeks to detect and quantify water-ice in lunar soil using a rover/lander platform.

ii.Lunar Electrostatic Dust EXperiment (LEDEX): It aims to identify charged dust particles, confirm dust levitation processes, and to estimate approximate dust size and flux of charged, levitated dust particles.

Recent Related News:

i.On 20th July 2023, Skyroot Aerospace Private Limited, Hyderabad (Telangana) -based space startup, successfully tested its Raman-II engine at the Liquid Thruster Test Facility (LTTF) of ISRO Propulsion Complex (IPRC) at Mahendragiri, Tirunelveli district, Tamil Nadu(TN). The testing was enabled by Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe).

ii.On July 12, 2023, a group of vital facilities essential for the enhancement of solid motor realization were inaugurated from SDSC- SHAR, Sriharikota, AP. SDSC-SHAR aims to set up 29 primary and 16 auxiliary facilities to enhance its capabilities in solid propellant processing.

About Indian Space Research Organisation(ISRO):
Chairman– Sreedhara Panicker Somanath
Headquarters– Bengaluru, Karnataka
Establishment –1969