India on Friday launched the Chandrayaan-3 rocket from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh, aiming to become the fourth country after Russia, the United States and China to achieve a controlled landing on the Moon.
Television footage showed the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) LVM3 launch rocket launching from the country’s main space port in the southern state, leaving a plume of smoke and fire.
The Chandrayaan-3 mission is designed to deploy a lander and rover near the South Pole of the Moon around 23 August.
Upon landing, it will operate for one lunar day, which is roughly equivalent to 14 Earth days.
Only three other space agencies – the United States, the former Soviet Union and China – have touched down a lander on the lunar surface. No one has landed near the South Pole of the Moon.
The third Chandrayaan, which means “moon vehicle” in Sanskrit, consists of a 2-metre-long lander designed to deploy a rover near the Moon’s south pole, where it will stay for two weeks during a series of experiments. Expected to remain functional.
ISRO’s Chandrayaan-2 mission successfully deployed an orbiter in 2020, but its lander and rover were destroyed in a crash near where Chandrayaan-3 would attempt touchdown.