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April 13, 2023
India successfully launched a moon mission Monday in a monumental moment for the aspiring Indian space superpower. The launch, which took place at the Satish Dhawan Space Center at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh state at 2:43 p.m., Monday local time, was India’s second attempt to join the powers of the United States, China, and the former Soviet Union as one of only four countries to make a soft landing on the lunar surface. ~
The Indian lunar mission, Chandrayaan-2, which translates to “moon vehicle” in Sanskrit, made its first attempt to launch on July 15, but was called off after reported technical issues fifty-six minutes before the launch. ~
The three part Chandrayaan-2 – which consists of a lunar orbiter, lunar lander, and lunar rover – weigh a combined 3.8 tons and carries 13 payloads, all developed by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). According to CNN, Chandrayaan-2 will “travel for two months, before positioning itself in a circular orbit 62 miles (100 kilometers) above the moon’s surface. From there, the lander — named Vikram after the pioneer of the Indian space program Vikram Sarabhai — will separate from the main vessel and gently land on the moon’s surface near its south pole. A robotic rover named Pragyan (meaning “wisdom”) will then deploy and spend one lunar day, or 14 Earth days, collecting mineral and chemical samples from the moon’s surface for remote scientific analysis. Over the next year, the orbiter will map the lunar surface and study the outer atmosphere of the moon.” ~
According to Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, head of the nuclear and space policy initiative at the Observer Research Foundation, Monday’s launch has huge implications for the future of India’s space program and its ambitious plans to put Indian astronauts in space by 2022. In a statement Monday, Mr. Rajagopalan stated that “India wants to show, especially since Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi came into office, that India is a major power, and that India has to be treated as a major Indo-Pacific power.” ~
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