India’s Chandrayaan-2 Goes to the Moon

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India Sees Successful Launch of Chandrayaan-2.

India successfully launched a spaceship bound for the moon at around 5 am EDT this morning according to CNN. The mission aims to soft-land a rover on the lunar south pole, a hot spot for the new space race. India’s Chandarayaan-2 (Sanskrit for “moon vehicle”) is the country’s second attempt to launch a lunar mission. Indian space officials called off the first attempt less than an hour before the scheduled liftoff time due to technical complications.

How India’s Chandrayaan-2 Will Work

The 13.8-ton lunar craft carries thirteen payloads. Additionally, three elements of India’s Chandrayaan-2 include the orbiter, lander, and rover. The ISRO designed all of these systems.  

Chandrayaan-2 will fly for a couple of months in orbit around the Moon before sending Vikram, the lander to the surface. Vikram was named for Indian Space Pioneer Vikram Sarabhai. Once Vikram makes its soft landing, the rover, Pragyan (Sanskrit for “wisdom) will roll out onto the lunar surface and gathering data. Pragyan will collect mineral and chemical samples from the lunar surface for about fourteen days. The samples it collects will be studied remotely. 

Furthermore, the orbiter will map the lunar surface and its thin outer atmosphere.  

Setting Indias Sights on Becoming Space Superpower

Thus far, only three countries accomplished what Chandrayaan-2 was launched to do. The United States, the former U.S.S.R., and China have all soft-landed rovers on the moon. With Monday’s launch, India hopes to become the fourth. India made a lot of headlines lately regarding anti-satellite missile testing. This latest mission only reinforces the notion that the country with the second-highest population on the planet is itching to flex some space muscle.

Prior to this mission, Chandrayaan-1, India’s first lunar mission, discovered water molecules on the surface.  Additionally, India became the first Asian nation to put a probe around Mars. India’s current ambitions revolve around further lunar exploration with Chandrayaan-3, set to return to the Moon in about five years. They also have a goal to put Indian astronauts into space by 2022.  Furthermore, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) wants to build an independent Indian Space Station by 2030. Clearly, India’s not messing around when it comes to space.

Asian Competition

Students waive Indian Flags in celebration of Chandrayaan-2 launch

Indian students wave an Indian national flag as the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) Chandrayaan-2 (Moon Chariot 2), on board the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-mark III-M1), launches in Sriharikota in the state of Andhra Pradesh on July 22, 2019. – India launched a bid to become a leading space power on July 22, sending up a rocket to put a craft on the surface of the Moon in what it called a “historic day” for the nation. (Photo by ARUN SANKAR / AFP) (Photo credit should read ARUN SANKAR/AFP/Getty Images)

In Asia, three main countries are currently competing for dominance. China, Japan, and India devote bigger and bigger portions of their national budgets to space research and exploration. China landed a rover on the far side of the moon in January, becoming the first country to do so. Japan, meanwhile, continues to protect its interests in space and has its own ambitious plans for exploration.  

American Competition

Also, let’s not forget that Vice President Mike Pence seems to be hell-bent on making sure the next people to land on the moon are Americans, and that at least one of them is a woman. There are dangers with rushing things, however, and cutting four years off of Artemis‘ mission timeline might prove to be more costly than waiting to make sure we get it right.

Regardless, India’s Chandrayaan-2 is a Success.

Meanwhile, Chandrayaan-2 is in space tonight, and it carries the hopes and dreams of a developing nation on its back. Crowds of students proudly waved Indian flags and celebrated their country’s accomplishments. And they should. 


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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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