Chandrayaan-2 Leaves Earth Orbit for the Moon

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India’s Chandrayaan-2 Leaves Earth Orbit. Now it’s headed “Straight to the Moon!”

A few weeks ago, India launched Chandrayaan-2, a spacecraft designed to land on the Moon’s south pole and continue exploring that region. In doing so, they joined the US, China, Russia, the EU, Israel, and both Koreas in racing to the lunar surface. There’s water on them there polar caps, and by golly, we want to exploit every bit of it. While most agencies do plan on studying the region extensively, many of the heavy hitters have other motives, too. Blue Origin, run by Jeff Bezos, has expressed a desire to see factory settlements on extraterrestrial surfaces eventually. India, on the other hand, just wants to successfully land its first spacecraft there successfully for now. As Chandrayaan-2 leaves Earth orbit, bound for the lunar surface, the entire nation is hoping that they won’t see a repeat of the crash landing an Israeli craft recently experienced.

Read More: Now We Have Moon Tardigrades—Thanks, Israel

Some Great Pictures While In Orbit

Leaving Earth Behind

In order to escape Earth’s gravity, Chandrayaan-2 burned its liquid apogee motor for 1,203 seconds. The burn was the sixth final in a series of orbital burns planned for this month. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) calls it a “translunar injection.” 

Chandrayaan-2 will begin orbiting the Moon less than a week from now. The craft has three main components—an orbiter, a lander, and a rover. The ISRO expects the orbiter to work for about a year, sending back invaluable photos and other data like its predecessor, Chandrayaan-1. The lander and rover will descend to the lunar surface sometime next month. Then the rover will collect data for about two weeks before it becomes too cold to operate. 

India Rising

When Chandrayaan-2 lands on the moon, if it does so successfully, it will make India the fourth nation to accomplish such a feat. The US, China, and Russia are currently the only countries to have done so. Israel tried to do it last month, and they crashed, leaving a bunch of space debris and tardigrades behind. You can read more about that by clicking the link above. The success of both Chandrayaan missions thus far bodes well for the ISRO.

However, while India is rapidly developing its space program for exploration, that isn’t their only purpose. Earlier this summer they successfully tested their first anti-satellite missile. While they are still quite a bit behind in terms of capability, the increasing presence of commercial space companies may give them the boost they need to catch up very quickly. 

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Brandon Humphreys

Brandon Humphreys

I'm a wizard. I write stuff and it goes from my head into yours - Magic! Apart from that, I am the Senior Editor for Space Porn, a veteran, a rock guitarist, and a teacher.

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