Chandrayaan-3 - What it means for India | All you need to know

Chandrayaan-3 - What it means for India | All you need to know

Chandrayaan-3 - What it means for India | All you need to know  

In this article we are going to discuss in detail about Chandrayaan-3's successful landing on the moon marks a momentous achievement for India, showcasing innovation, inspiring future generations, and contributing to everyday technology, while reflecting a mission grounded in human betterment rather than international rivalry.

Chandrayaan programme

Chandrayaan-3, India's third lunar exploration mission under ISRO's Chandrayaan programme, successfully landed on the Moon's south pole region on 23 August 2023 at 12:32 UTC. The mission includes a lander named Vikram and a rover named Pragyan, similar to those of the previous Chandrayaan-2 mission. The propulsion module carried the lander and rover configuration to lunar orbit in preparation for a powered descent by the lander.

Operator ISRO
Mission duration 1 month and 11 days (elapsed)
Propulsion module: ≤ 3 to 6 months (planned) 20 days (elapsed) (since orbit insertion)
Vikram lander: ≤ 14 days (planned) 2 days (elapsed) (since landing)
Pragyan rover: ≤ 14 days (planned) 2 days (elapsed) (since deployment)
Bus Chandrayaan
Manufacturer ISRO
Launch mass 3900 kg
Payload mass Propulsion Module: 2148 kg
Lander Module (Vikram): 1726 kg
Rover (Pragyan) 26 kg
Total: 3900 kg
Power Propulsion Module: 758 W
Lander Module: 738 W
WS with Bias Rover: 50 W
Launch date 14 July 2023 14:35:17 IST, (9:05:17 UTC)
Rocket LVM3 M4
Launch site Satish Dhawan Space Centre
Contractor ISRO
Orbital insertion 05-Aug-23
Pericynthion altitude 153 km (95 mi)
Apocynthion altitude 163 km (101 mi)
Spacecraft component Vikram lander
Landing date 23 August 2023 18:02 IST, (12:32 UTC)
Landing site 69.367621°S 32.348126°E (between Manzinus C and Simpelius N craters)


On 22 July 2019, ISRO launched Chandrayaan-2 on board a Launch Vehicle Mark-3 (LVM3) launch vehicle consisting of an orbiter, a lander and a rover. Cite error: The opening tag is malformed or has a bad name (see the help page). The lander was scheduled to touch the lunar surface in September 2019 to deploy the Pragyan rover. The lander ultimately crashed when it lost contact with Earth (ISRO) and deviated from its intended trajectory while attempting to land. 

The lunar South Pole region holds particular interest for scientific exploration due to studies that show large amounts of ice there. Mountainous terrain and unpredictable lighting conditions not only protect the ice from melting but also make landing scientific probes there a challenging undertaking. This ice could contain solid-state compounds that would normally melt under warmer conditions elsewhere on the Moon, compounds which could provide insight into lunar, Earth, and Solar System history. Ice could also be used as a source of drinking water and hydrogen for fuel and oxygen for future manned missions and outposts.

The European Space Tracking Network (ESTRACK), operated by the European Space Agency (ESA), supports the mission. Under a new cross-support arrangement, ESA tracking support could be provided for upcoming ISRO missions such as those of India's first human spaceflight programme, Gaganyaan, and the Aditya-L1 solar research mission. In return, future ESA missions will receive similar support from ISRO's own tracking stations. 


ISRO's mission objectives for the Chandrayaan-3 mission were:

  1. Getting a lander to land safely and softly on the surface of the Moon.
  2. Observing and demonstrating the rover's driving capabilities on the Moon.
  3. Conducting and observing experiments on the materials available on the lunar surface to better understand the composition of the Moon. 

Spacecraft Design

Chandrayaan-3 comprises three main components:

1. Propulsion module

  • The propulsion module carries the lander and rover configuration to a 100-kilometre (62 mi) lunar orbit. It is a box-like structure with a large solar panel mounted on one side and a cylindrical mounting structure for the lander (the Intermodular Adapter Cone) on top. 

2. Lander

  • The Vikram lander is responsible for the soft landing on the Moon. It is also box-shaped, with four landing legs and four landing thrusters capable of producing 800 newtons of thrust each. It carries the rover and various scientific instruments to perform on-site analysis. 
  • The lander for Chandrayaan-3 has four variable-thrust engines with slew rate changing capabilities, unlike Chandrayaan-2's lander, which had five, with the fifth one being centrally mounted and capable only of fixed thrust. One of the main reasons for Chandrayaan-2's landing failure was attitude increase during the camera coasting phase. 
  • This was removed by allowing the lander to control attitude and thrust during all phases of descent. Attitude correction rate is increased from Chandrayaan-2's 10°/s to 25°/s with Chandrayaan-3. Additionally, the Chandrayaan-3 lander is equipped with a Laser Doppler Velocimeter (LDV) to allow measuring attitude in 3 directions.[23][24] The impact legs have been made stronger compared to Chandrayaan-2 and instrumentation redundancy has been improved. 
  • It will target a more precise 4 km (2.5 mi) by 4 km (2.5 mi) landing region based on images previously provided by the Orbiter High-Resolution Camera (OHRC) onboard Chandrayaan-2's orbiter. ISRO improved the structural rigidity, increased polling in instruments, increased data frequency and transmission, and added additional multiple contingency systems to improve lander survivability in the event of failures during descent and landing. 

3. Rover

  • The Pragyan rover is a six-wheeled vehicle with a mass of 26 kilograms (57 pounds). It is 917 millimetres (3.009 ft) x 750 millimetres (2.46 ft) x 397 millimetres (1.302 ft) in size. 
  • The rover is expected to take multiple measurements to support research into the composition of the lunar surface, the presence of water ice in the lunar soil, the history of lunar impacts, and the evolution of the Moon's atmosphere. 


  • LVM3 M4, Chandrayaan-3 – Launch vehicle lifting off from the second launch pad of SDSC-SHAR, Sriharikota
  • Chandrayaan-3 was launched aboard on LVM3-M4 rocket on 14 July 2023, at 2:35 pm IST from Satish Dhawan Space Centre Second Launch Pad in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh, India, entering an Earth parking orbit with a perigee of 170 km (106 mi) and an apogee of 36,500 km (22,680 mi).


  • After a series of manoeuvres that placed Chandrayaan-3 in a trans-lunar injection orbit,[29][30][31] ISRO performed a lunar-orbit insertion (LOI) on 5 August, successfully placing the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft into an orbit around the Moon. The LOI operation was carried out from the ISRO Telemetry, Tracking, and Command Network (ISTRAC) located in Bengaluru. 
  • On 17 August, the Vikram lander separated from the propulsion module to begin the last phase of the mission.


  • On 23 August 2023, as the lander approached the low point of its orbit, its four engines fired as a braking manoeuvre at 30 kilometres (19 mi) above the Moon's surface. After 11.5 minutes, the lander was 7.2 km (4.5 miles) above the surface; it maintained this altitude for about 10 seconds, then stabilized itself using eight smaller thrusters and rotated from a horizontal to a vertical position while continuing its descent.
  • It then used two of its four engines to slow its descent to roughly 150 metres (490 ft); it hovered there for about 30 seconds and located an optimal landing spot before continuing downward and touching down at 12:32 UTC. 

Mission life

  • Propulsion Module: Carries lander and rover to 100 by 100 kilometres (62 mi × 62 mi) orbit, with operation of experimental payload for up to 6 months. 
  • Lander Module: 1 Lunar Day (14 Earth Days) 
  • Rover Module: 1 Lunar Day (14 Earth Days) 


  1. ISRO Chairperson: S. Somanath 
  2. Mission Director: S. Mohanakumar 
  3. Associate Mission Director: G. Narayanan 
  4. Project Director: P. Veeramuthuvel 
  5. Deputy Project Director: Kalpana. K 
  6. Vehicle Director: Biju C. Thomas 


  • In December 2019, ISRO requested the initial funding of the project, amounting to ₹75 crore (US$9.4 million), out of which ₹60 crore (US$7.5 million) would be for meeting expenditure towards machinery, equipment, and other capital expenditure, while the remaining ₹15 crore (US$1.9 million) was sought for operating expenditure. 
  • Confirming the existence of the project, ISRO's former chairman K. Sivan stated that the estimated cost would be around ₹615 crore (equivalent to ₹721 crore or US$90 million in 2023). 

What it means for India 

Chandrayaan-3 mission has brought science and technology to the forefront of discussion in India. ISRO and Chandrayaan-3 have been featured in all forms of media, from radio to news channels, print media to electronic media, and the entire nation is thrilled to celebrate the remarkable achievement of Chandrayaan-3's rover landing on the moon. This milestone is a testament to the dedication, innovation, and perseverance of all the scientists at ISRO. However, it is important to remember that India's space endeavours have always been guided by the philosophy of Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, focusing on benefiting humanity and society, rather than competing internationally.

There is often criticism about the need for Indian space exploration missions when there are many societal problems to be addressed. However, the majority of the Department of Space budget goes towards supporting space-based infrastructures that we use every day, from banking to transport, and entertainment to food delivery. It would be unwise not to plan for pushing the boundary of human knowledge, which is where space exploration comes in. While the direct benefits of these missions may not be immediately apparent, they can have far-reaching effects, as evidenced by the development of the Kalman Filter algorithm during the Apollo mission that is now used on every mobile phone.

As a researcher with almost a decade of experience in space vehicle navigation, I believe that the successful landing of Chandrayaan-3 will have important societal benefits. The mathematical analysis, science, and technology developed for this mission can be applied to safety-critical systems on Earth that require a certain level of performance guarantee. Additionally, this mission will inspire the younger generation to pursue rigorous scientific research and achieve similar successes in the future.

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