ISRO Plans to Return to The Moon



     Image source -topyaps.com


Chandrayaan-2 was a remarkable launch that was witnessed by an entire nation as the lander dropped to the surface of the moon at 3 am on the 6th of September. The nation watched with bated breath as the lander disappeared in the last 300 kilometres of the descent. The images of K Sivan breaking down and being consoled by Prime Minister Modi became imprinted in the nation's eyes as the disappointment settled in. However, that’s not the end of the story. In fact, the truth is far from it. ISRO Chief K Sivan spoke to the graduating class of IIT Delhi at their convocation and expressed both his determination and resolve to accomplish a soft landing on the Moon.


The Inception of Chandrayaan 
Chandrayaan-1 was brought to the nation by the late PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee in his Independence Day speech way back in 2003. ISRO came together and gathered over 100 eminent scientists in various fields for this project and by November, the Government of India had officially approved of the mission.
Chandrayaan-1 took to the skies in October 2008 and proceeded to take an unconventional route to the moon. Unlike the rest of the world that directly flew for the moon, ISRO took a smarter and economical approach by gradually increasing the orbit of the satellite and proceeded to insert to satellite into Lunar orbit with almost surgical precision on 12th of November 2008. 5 years since the project had been greenlighted, ISRO had seemingly done the impossible. As of 2016, Chandrayaan-1 still is in Orbit although it was scheduled to fall to the lunar surface by 2012. 


Getting ready for Phase -2
Even before Chandrayaan-1 took to the skies and the starry heavens above, ISRO was already looking towards Phase 2. In November 2007, the Russian Federal Space Agency and ISRO signed an agreement in which they agreed to work together to form an orbiter and a Rover.
ISRO managed to prepare and ready the lander as per schedule. However, the Russian lander was unable to be completed on time and kept getting postponed. After an almost 5 year wait, ISRO decided to take matters into its own hands. In 2015, ISRO started development on the Vikram Lander and Pragyan the Lunar Rover. 


Chandrayaan 2
After many technical glitches and postponements to the mission, Chandrayaan-2 left the Satish Dhawan Space Centre on 22nd July 2019. By 20th August it had reached Lunar orbit and by the 6th of September, Vikram was on its way to the surface. However, the first deviation started popping up 2.1 km above the lunar surface and seconds before landing, telemetry was lost. 
It is estimated that the Vikram Lander touched the surface of the moon at a velocity of nearly 50 m/s (180 kmph) instead of the planned 2 m/s (7.2 kmph). K Sivan’s statement “it must have been a hard landing” seems to be a very polite way to put it. However, this apparent failure of a soft landing does not mean the entire mission was a failure. The Orbiter continues to send images and data about the surface of the moon and is expected to continue doing so for almost 7 more years.
The Road Ahead
K Sivan’s words to the graduating class of IIT Delhi came at the Golden Jubilee Convocation of the Institute. They seem to only reinforce the will and strength of ISRO to return to its work and continue moving forward. As of today, Chandrayaan-3 has entered it’s planning stage. As of today, its launch date has tentatively been placed in 2024. ISRO has teamed up with the Japanese Space Agency JAXA to return to the South pole and accomplish what Vikram could not. A successful soft landing. 
There have been talks about NASA joining JAXA and ISRO in this mission, however, nothing has been officially announced yet. ISRO has gotten to where it is almost always on its own strength and expertise and more often than not, developing indigenous technologies to achieve awe-inspiring achievements. 
Let us hope ISRO continues to work relentlessly and accomplish greater heights in space research and exploration.


- Written by Nachiket Bhushan Kondhalkar
- Edited by Maitreyi Mehndiratta

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ISRO Plans to Return to The Moon ISRO Plans to Return to The Moon Reviewed by EMN on November 03, 2019 Rating: 5

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