Chandrayaan-3: Vikram Lander Overcomes Heart-Stopping Challenges to Gracefully Touch Down on Moon’s Surface
SRIHARIKOTA, India, August 23, 6.04 PM IST — In an awe-inspiring feat of celestial courage, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has orchestrated a breathtaking lunar landing as part of the Chandrayaan-3 mission, culminating a 40-day odyssey that commenced from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota.
The world held its collective breath as the Vikram lander embarked on its momentous automatic landing sequence at 5.44 PM IST today. With nerves of steel, ISRO’s mission controllers watched as the Vikram lander’s onboard computers and logic waged a battle against the unforgiving lunar terrain. The tense air at the ISRO’s ISTRAC was palpable, while the lander’s onboard systems assumed the weighty responsibility of executing a delicate touch down.
Just as anxiety reached its crescendo, an explosion of jubilation erupted in the control room. News spread like wildfire that at precisely 6.04 PM IST, the Vikram lander had accomplished a soft lunar landing that seemed almost miraculous. The Chandrayaan-3 mission’s success is a triumphant redemption following the Chandrayaan-2 mission of 2019, when the Vikram lander tragically crashed into the lunar surface.
India on the Moon – Chandrayaan-3 soft lands in difficult Moon Terrain
This astounding achievement propels India into an elite global club, which hitherto included only the United States, the Soviet Union, and China as members. Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself took to the airwaves from South Africa, extending his heartfelt congratulations to the ISRO scientists. He declared, “India stands on the moon tonight. This triumph isn’t ours alone; it belongs to humanity. It’s a herald of India’s advancement and will guide future lunar pursuits worldwide.”
Prime Minister Modi on Chandrayaan-3 Feat: India on the Moon, Dedicated the success to humanity and the world
The final stages of the Chandrayaan-3 mission were not for the faint-hearted, encompassing four phases that have already earned the moniker “15 minutes of terror.” These high-stakes moments unfurled as follows:
Rough Braking Phase: The Vikram lander executed a breathtaking reduction in its horizontal velocity, transitioning from a blistering speed of around 6,000 kilometers per hour to nearly zero, priming for a gentle descent.
Attitude Holding Phase: At a mere height of approximately 7.43 kilometers above the lunar surface, the lander pivoted from a horizontal orientation to a vertical stance, traversing a distance of 3.48 kilometers amidst heart-stopping suspense.
Fine Braking Phase: This intense phase, spanning 175 seconds, involved the lander traversing 28.52 kilometers horizontally toward the intended landing site. Its altitude descended by roughly 1 kilometer. This very phase was where Chandrayaan-2 faltered.
Terminal Descent: The crescendo of the mission, the terminal descent, culminated in the lander’s fully vertical descent onto the lunar soil—an emotional climax after weeks of nail-biting anticipation.
As the dust settles on this historic achievement, ISRO’s spotlight now turns to assessing the health of the lander and the impending emergence of the rover. “The lander’s health will be assessed, and the rover will disembark from the lander in the coming hours,” affirmed ISRO Chief S Somanath, his face reflecting the enormity of the moment.
Indeed, even amid this triumph of Chandrayaan-3, the universe revealed its capricious nature; the landing velocity fell short of the targeted 2 meters per second. ISRO Chairman Somnath embraced this minor deviation, heralding it as a beacon of hope for future endeavors. The forthcoming 14 days of experimentation, facilitated by the lander and rover’s instruments, promise unprecedented excitement and revelations.
A cascade of gratitude flowed from ISRO’s leadership, with Chairperson S Somanath personally congratulating the pivotal players: Project Director P Veeramuthuvel, Assistant Director Kalpana, Mission Director Srikanth, and URSC Director V Sankaran. Veeramuthuvel was effusive about ISRO’s groundbreaking achievement as the first to land near the moon’s south pole.
The air in the control room may have cleared, but the collective breathlessness endures as humanity contemplates the remarkable video capturing the last heart-stopping moments before Chandrayaan-3 etched its indelible mark on the lunar surface.