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India launches Chandrayaan-3 rocket to moon

July 14, 2023

New Delhi is aiming to land a rover on the moon. Only the United States, China and the former Soviet Union have completed successful lunar landings.

The second-generation navigation satellite NVS-01 is launched on board an expendable Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle rocket from Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh state, India, on May 29, 2023
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) said it successfully launched a second-generation navigation satellite NVS-01Image: picture alliance/Xinhua News Agency

India's space agency launched its Chandrayaan-3 rocket on Friday to cheers and applause that swept through mission control.

The blast-off from India's main spaceport in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh was at 2:35 p.m. local time (0905 UTC).

New Delhi is aiming to land a rover on the lunar surface. The mission is scheduled to reach the moon on August 23.

It comes four years after an earlier attempt ended in failure.

Only the United States, China and the former Soviet Union have completed successful lunar landings, and a successful mission would be seen as a milestone for India's space program.

"Chandrayaan-3 scripts a new chapter in India's space odyssey," Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted from France, where he was the guest of honor at Paris's Bastille Day parade. "It soars high, elevating the dreams and ambitions of every Indian."

Earlier this year, a Japanese start-up attempted to get a lander to the moon, but the object crashed.

India also tried a similar mission in 2019, with the Chanrdayaan-2 rocket and a rover called Vikram like the one in the current mission — but the rover crashed as it attempted a soft landing on the moon. 

What else do we know about the Chandrayaan-3?

The Chandrayaan-3 was built with a budget of under $75 million (€66.8 million).

The launch by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is the country's first major mission since the government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced policies to promote investment in private space launches.

India plans for its companies to increase their share of the launch market fivefold, up from 2% in 2020.

India sent its first probe to orbit the moon in 2008. In 2014, it became the first Asian country to put a satellite into orbit around Mars. Three years later, its space agency launched 104 satellites in a single mission.

The ISRO's Gaganyaan program is scheduled to launch a three-day manned mission into Earth's orbit in 2024.

sdi/sms (Reuters, AFP)