The moon has always captivated our imagination and inspired humanity for millennia. From its formation to its influence on our planet, from its ethereal beauty to its scientific significance, the moon never fails to amaze and fascinate us. Lunar exploration continues to push the boundaries of human knowledge, offering exciting prospects for scientific discovery and potential future endeavors.

Chandrayaan-3: ‘Launch Rehearsal’
Chandrayaan-3: Launch rehearsal took place on 13 July, 2023.
Image Credit: Official Twitter Account of ISRO

Throughout history, several countries have embarked on missions to explore its mysterious surface. As we all know India is celebrating the successful launch of ISRO’s (Indian Space Research Organisation) long-awaited Chandrayaan 3 created a new historical moment. The satellite was launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Indian state of Andhra Pradesh at 2:35 PM on 14th July 2023, Friday.

Well, isn’t it exciting to know more about the illuminating journey of the Chandrayaan program?

All about the Chandrayaan

Chandrayaan is the name of India’s lunar exploration program. The word “Chandrayaan” is derived from the Sanskrit words “Chandra” (moon) and “Yaan” (vehicle), meaning “moon vehicle” or “moon craft.” The program aims to explore the moon and expand our understanding of Earth’s natural satellite.

Chandrayaan-1 was launched on October 22, 2008, using the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), marking India’s first mission to the moon. The primary objective of Chandrayaan-1 was to create a comprehensive map of the moon’s surface, study its mineral composition, search for water ice in the polar regions, and investigate the moon’s exosphere. The mission successfully accomplished many of its goals, including the discovery of water molecules on the moon.

Visual comparison of Chandrayaan-1 and Chandrayaan-2
Visual comparison of Chandrayaan-1 and Chandrayaan-2
Image Credit: JaiHind0011 / Wikimedia Commons

Chandrayaan-2 was the second lunar mission of the Chandrayaan program. It comprised an orbiter, a lander, and a rover. The mission was launched on July 22, 2019, and aimed to land a rover named Pragyan on the lunar surface. However, during the final stages of the landing attempt on September 7, 2019, the lander named Vikram deviated from its intended trajectory and crash-landed on the moon.

Chandrayaan-3 Facts
Chandrayaan-3 Facts
Image Credit: India Today

After the partial success of Chandrayaan-2, ISRO announced the plans for India’s third launch mission Chandrayaan-3. It was launched on a GSLV Mark 3 (LVM 3) heavy-lift launch vehicle. The three-stage rocket consists of an indigenous lander module (LM), propulsion module (PM), and a rover with the objective of developing and demonstrating new technologies required for inter-planetary missions.

Image Credit: Official Twitter Account of ISRO

According to scientists, after the Chandrayaan 3 launch at 2.35 pm on Friday, around 16 minutes after, the propulsion module is anticipated to get apart from the rocket and will orbit the earth for about 5-6 times in an elliptical cycle at a distance of 170 km closest and 36,500 km farthest from Earth shifting in the direction of the lunar orbit. It is believed that On August 23 at 5.47 p.m., after a 40-day journey, the Chandrayaan 3 lander Vikram will touch down on the lunar surface, as planned.

Chandrayaan-3 launch took place at 2:35p.m. on July 14, 2023.
Chandrayaan-3 launch took place at 2:35 p.m. on July 14, 2023.
Image Credit: Official Twitter Account of ISRO

The Chandrayaan 3 launch mission cost India around $75 million. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised the engineers who carried out this mission, promising to continue working on India’s space program and ambitions.

Now, let us embark on a thrilling adventure, exploring the achievements of the nations that have successfully reached the moon. From the pioneering efforts of the United States to the trailblazing missions of Russia and the accomplishments of China, we will uncover the valuable pieces each country has added to the lunar exploration puzzle.

1. Russia

Luna 2
Luna 2
Image Credit: 10gmagma01gmailcom / Wikimedia Commons
Luna 9 Space Probe
Luna 9 Space Probe
Image Credit: Stolbovsky / Wikimedia Commons

Russia had made significant strides in lunar exploration through its Luna program. Luna 2, launched in 1959, was the first successful mission to reach the moon’s surface, crash-landing onto it. Later, Luna 9 accomplished a groundbreaking achievement by becoming the first spacecraft to make a soft landing on the moon in 1966. The Luna program continued with subsequent missions, gathering valuable data and contributing to our understanding of the moon.

2. United States

Buzz Aldrin's footprint on the moon
Buzz Aldrin’s footprint on the moon
Image Credit: Digital Images Studio
The Apollo 11 Command Module "Columbia" on display at Space Center Houston.
The Apollo 11 Command Module “Columbia” on display at Space Center Houston.
Image Credit: Tom Durr

The United States of America is the first and only country to have sent twelve astronauts to the moon. NASA achieved the monumental accomplishment of the historic Apollo 11 mission in 1969. This momentous occasion marked humanity’s first steps on another celestial body. Subsequent Apollo missions, including Apollo 12 to Apollo 17, further expanded our knowledge of the moon’s geology, conducted experiments, and brought back valuable samples.

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3. China

Yutu-2 rover moving away from the Chang'e-4 mission's landing zone on the far side of the moon
Yutu-2 rover moving away from the Chang’e-4 mission’s landing zone on the far side of the moon
Image Credit: The Indian Express

China has emerged as a prominent player in lunar exploration with its Chang’e program. The Chang’e 3 mission, launched in 2013, achieved a successful soft landing and deployed the Yutu rover, marking China’s first lunar rover mission. Building on this success, the Chang’e 4 mission in 2018 created history by becoming the first-ever landing on the far side of the moon, expanding our knowledge of this unexplored region. China’s Chang’e 5 mission in 2020 successfully brought back lunar samples to Earth.

Indeed, the moon, our celestial companion, has been the target of exploration by several countries over the years. The United States, with its Apollo program, paved the way for human exploration and conducted extensive scientific investigations. Russia’s Luna program left an incredible mark with its successful soft landings and data collection. China, with its Chang’e program, has achieved remarkable milestones, including rover missions, landing on the far side, and the return of lunar samples.

Along with other countries, ISRO’s Chandrayaan 3 launch holds significant importance for India as the program not only advances our understanding of the moon but also contributes to technological advancements and inspires future generations of scientists and engineers in India and around the world. 

While Chandrayaan 3 aimed for the moon, where are you planning to go? With easy online visa services, cheap flight bookings online, worldwide accommodation, and all inclusive tour packages, planning a trip on Earth is a breeze.

Well, the moon will always continue to beckon us, and with each successful mission, we get one step closer to unlocking its mysteries. Until then, you can keep gazing at the moon and dream about the next giant leap for humankind!   

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