India is preparing for its second moon landing attempt, which will be an important event for the nation. Chandrayaan-3, which means “mooncraft” in Sanskrit, is set to land its Vikram lander near the little-explored lunar south pole just after 6 p.m. (1200 GMT).
A previous Indian attempt failed in 2019 and the latest mission comes only days after Russia’s first moon mission in nearly 50 years, aimed for the same region, crashed on the lunar surface.
Former Indian space chief K Sivan stated that the last photographs transmitted back by the lander gave every sign that the final leg of the journey would be successful.
“It is giving some encouragement that we will be able to achieve the landing mission without any problem,” he told AFP on Monday.
Sivan also said that the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has made changes in the 4 years after scientists lost communication with a lunar module seconds before its scheduled landing.
The mission took over 6 weeks to reach the moon in front of hundreds of thousands of cheering spectators, taking much longer to reach the moon than the Apollo missions of the 1960s and 1970s, which arrived in a matter of days. India currently uses less powerful rockets than the US did at the time. Instead, the probe orbited Earth several times to pick up speed before starting its month-long lunar trajectory.
The cost of the most recent mission is $74.6 million, significantly less than that of other nations, keeping with India’s frugal space engineering.
As per The Guardian, experts say that India can keep prices down by copying and adapting existing space technology, as well as by hiring a large number of exceptionally skilled engineers who earn a fraction of their foreign counterparts’ wages.