India's First Lunar Lander Makes Its Way To The Moon

This 2019, India once more joins the ever-expanding list of space “adventurers,” since its very first Moon lander has left the Earth and is now on its way to visit our planet’s only natural satellite.

Launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Center located on India’s southeast coast, the Chandrayaan 2 mission officially had liftoff at 5:13 a.m. EDT last July 22, marking a significant milestone in space exploration for the nation. Per official reports, the lunar lander consists of a lander named Vikram (after Indian space scientist Vikram Sarabhai), a rover named Pragyan (after the Sanskrit word for wisdom) and an orbiter.

This liftoff marks the lunar lander’s third attempt at launching, after a couple delays throughout the year. The first one was back in May, with the delay due to additional safety checks after the Beresheet lander that was made by Israel crashed on the Moon last April. This cited concerns for the team behind the lunar lander, resulting to more tests. The next delay was back in July 14, when the lander’s countdown was called off after an hour due to a “technical snag.” Per the Indian Space Agency, the decision to delay it for the second time was “a measure of abundant caution.”

Lunar mission

Both the lander and rover are expected to touchdown on the Moon this September 7,  down a chosen site between two craters. The Pragyan rover will then separate after landing and will drive 500 meters across the landscape. It will then be using an equipped pair of spectrometers to measure the Moon’s soil and its elemental composition. Both the rover and lander will last for about two Earth weeks before running out of battery, while the orbiter will continue making observations of the Moon for a year’s time.

India’s Chandrayaan 2 is part of a new wave of space programs all made to prepare man’s eventual comeback on the Moon in a few year’s time. If successful, India will then become the fourth country to land their own spacecraft on our Moon. The nation would come after the U.S., China and the former Soviet Union.

Photo of the Moon's dark side taken by Beresheet from a distance of 550 km Photo of the Moon's dark side taken by Beresheet from a distance of 550 km SpaceIL