“When you fly to the moon you don’t need a rocket. You just need the imagination!”
― Anthony T. Hincks

Under an overcast sky, India took a giant leap of faith as ISRO’s Chandrayaan-2 soared from the Satish Dhawan Space Center at Sriharikota on Monday, the 22nd of July 2019. 17 minutes later, it injected into a geostationary transfer-orbit the lunar craft comprising a lander, an orbiter, and a rover- a three satellite mission stacked in a single launch.

Also flying onboard the rocket was the dreams and aspirations of 1.25 billion Indians and the perseverance of 100s of Indian scientists who fought against international sanctions and betrayals to dare to achieve with a rocket made completely from scratch.

At 2:43 pm IST, the rocket weighing 700-ton blasted off trailing fire and emitting a deafening roar and seconds later the 142-foot rocket disappeared into the clouds. The mission control confirmed the success of the take-off.

It is the beginning of a tense 48-day complicated journey to the far side of the moon, the dark side unseen to anybody. Multiple orbits around the earth will give it the necessary velocity to slingshot its way into the orbit of the moon, a time-consuming maneuver which is necessary to compensate for the limited power of the rockets.

Read: After a 2 billion km chase NASA spacecraft arrives at asteroid that will help us learn about the origin of life

This process has a big plus point as the use of the gravitational power of both the earth and the moon make the journey much less expensive when compared to the direct journey undertaken by the Soviet and American missions to the moon. The orbiter will make several orbits around the earth, each orbit wider than the other until finally the aircraft gets captured by the moon’s gravity and dragged into a lunar orbit.

On the completion of this mission, India will be the 4th nation after the United States, USSR, and China, who have successfully made a soft landing on our only satellite. The landing zone is on the dark, far side of the moon near the unexplored south pole.

Chandrayaan-2-onlookers

Image Credits: Rebecca Conway for The New York Times

Nothing unifies a nation more than a space program and more than a billion Indian eyes will be on ISRO’s Chandrayaan-2’s September rendezvous with the moon. Scientists and space enthusiasts around the world also eagerly await the outcome as its success will establish several firsts for a moon mission.

The Cost

One particular aspect that has intrigued the world has been the cost of the mission which is a fraction of the cost of the other lunar missions. The use of the gravitational fields of the earth and the moon was commendable.

This month also marked the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon but the dates are just a coincidence because this mission was originally scheduled in 2017. But the mission got delayed as the Russians backed out under international pressure. The Indians had to go 100% indigenous.

The Break-Up

The mission can be broken down into 4 components: the cryogenic engines, the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle – Mark III rocket; a lander; an orbiter; and the rover- a six-wheeler that will explore the lunar surface.

The Purpose

Chandrayaan-2-youngsters

Image Credits: Rebecca Conway for The New York Times

ISRO’s Chandrayaan-2 expedition will shed light on an unexplored region of the Moon – it’s south polar region. Detailed studies and tests will help us gain a better understanding of the origin and evolution of the moon. The mission will also explore discoveries of the previous mission, Chandrayaan-1, such as the presence of water molecules on the Moon and new rock types with unique chemical composition.

Read: UFOs All Around The Moon For An Hour!? Incredible Footage Captured

The mission has several unique features and primary among them is the very low-cost component. The use of the gravitational fields of the earth and moon shows that interplanetary journeys can be undertaken on a shoestring budget without compromising on security.

The instruments on the orbiter, lander, and rover together will send vital information about the dark side of the moon and should confirm the presence of water. The scientists at ISRO and ISRO’s Chandrayaan-2 have given us a new reason to hope.

Cover Image Courtesy: Arun Sankar/Agence France-Presse.

 

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Kash Khan

Creator of EducateInspireChange

 

   
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