India's Chandrayaan Odyssey: From Chandrayaan 1 to Chandrayaan 3

19 Aug 2023  Read 3056 Views

India has finally landed on the moon and became the only country in the world to land on the lunar south pole. India is now also the fourth country to land after the United States, Russia, and China. 🚀

Pursuing lunar exploration has been a roller coaster ride for space agencies worldwide, and India has firmly established its presence in this arena with the Chandrayaan missions. 

As per the latest reports, the Chandrayaan-3 lander has successfully undergone deboosting & has now landed as on 23rd Aug, 2023. But what is meant by the word Deboosting? And why were space missions inclined to make a soft landing at the moon's south pole?

In this blog, we will understand everything you need to know about space missions, the significant achievements of Chandrayaan 1, the complexities faced by Chandrayaan 2, and the success of Chandrayaan 3 mission, all contributing to India's remarkable moon odyssey in the simplest form possible.

So, Let’s get started.

Chandrayaan 1: Beginning of India’s Space Odyssey

  • The Chandrayaan missions have propelled India's space program to the global stage and deepened our understanding of the Moon's mysteries.

  • India's lunar journey began with the launch of Chandrayaan 1 on October 22, 2008—the mission aimed to map the Moon's surface in intricate detail and conduct mineralogical and chemical analyses. 

  • Chandrayaan 1 accomplished its objectives spectacularly, leading to the groundbreaking discovery of water molecules on the lunar surface. On November 14, 2008, a payload named MIP (Moon Impact Probe) carried by the spacecraft was separated and it struck the lunar South Pole in a controlled manner. 

Chandrayaan 1- ISRO's first moon mission has left a glorious legacy! Here's  all you need to know | The Financial Express
Source: The Financial Express
  • India then made discoveries related to detecting water (H2O) and hydroxyl (OH) on the lunar surface. The data also revealed their enhanced abundance towards the polar region. It further found ice in the North polar region of the Moon.

  • This revelation shattered long-held assumptions about the Moon's dry nature and opened new avenues for future exploration and potential human settlement. 

  • The mission's legacy lives on, contributing valuable data to our understanding of the Moon's composition.

Chandrayaan 2: New Learnings and Aspirations

  • Building upon the success of its predecessor, Chandrayaan 2 embarked on an even more ambitious journey. 

  • Launched on July 22, 2019, it comprised an orbiter, a lander named Vikram, and a rover named Pragyan. 

  • The primary objective was to achieve a soft landing near the Moon's south pole and conduct scientific investigations. 

  • While the orbiter continued to thrive and deliver valuable data, Vikram's landing attempt faced unforeseen challenges. Technical complexities and system errors prevented a successful landing, leaving the lander and rover stranded on the lunar surface.

Chandrayaan-2: India's 1st space mission being led by women scientists |  India News - Times of India
Source: TOI

Why did Chandrayaan 2 fail?

  • Chandrayaan 2, launched in July 2019 witnessed partial failure, it aimed to explore the Moon's south pole using an Orbiter, Lander, and Rover. Unfortunately, on September 7 of the same year, the lander Vikram and rover Pragyaan crashed on the lunar surface due to system errors.

  • Vikram was meant to decelerate as it approached the Moon, but the errors led to it maintaining a high velocity, resulting in the crash. 

  • Despite this setback, the Orbiter successfully collected data, building on Chandrayaan 1's water discovery and identifying water signatures across latitudes. 

  • Opportunities were missed due to the crash. The chance to showcase successful soft landing technology in outer space was lost. ISRO scientists indicated that a correctable small error caused the accident. 

The Chandrayaan-3 mission aimed to demonstrate this technology flawlessly. Vikram and Pragyaan were equipped to conduct surface observations, adding insights into terrain, composition, and mineralogy. Together with the Orbiter, they will contribute diverse data for a more comprehensive Moon portrait.

Chandrayaan 3: A Great Success for India

  • As per the ISRO, the chronology is that the lander slowed down to move it to lower orbit, then the ISRO carried out a second deboosting operation on August 20th; for the lander to make a soft landing at a specified lunar site. After Chandrayaan-3 got separated from the propulsion module, it successfully underwent a deboosting operation for deploying the rover.

  • After the Chandrayaan 3 landing, the plan is to deploy a rover on the moon and explore the lunar south pole. 

Note: The term deboosting means slowing down spacecraft when the mission is in its final stage before the lunar landing.

Chandrayaan-3 Mission Scheduled for Launch on July 13
Source: The Wire
The Pragyan Rover walking on the moon
  • Undeterred by the challenges of Chandrayaan 2, India geared up for Chandrayaan 3 and the successful landing became a huge victory for our country.

  • This mission was designed to rectify its predecessor's mistakes, equipped with reinforced landing legs, updated software, and enhanced redundancy measures to ensure a smooth and controlled landing. Chandrayaan 3's mission life of one lunar day, equivalent to 14 Earth days, allowed it to maximize scientific observations.

Chandrayaan 3's Significance

Chandrayaan-3 landing: Former ISRO chief optimistic about mission's success  - BusinessToday
Source: Business Today
  • Chandrayaan 3 holds immense significance as it aims to achieve a soft landing on the Moon and showcases India's resilience and determination in space exploration. 

  • The mission is poised to overcome the challenges faced by Chandrayaan 2 and establish India's credibility in precision lunar landings. 

  • With advanced technology, improved landing mechanisms, and valuable lessons learned from previous missions, Chandrayaan 3 is expected to mark a successful step toward India's lunar exploration goals.

  • Both Chandrayaan 2 and Chandrayaan 3 aimed at the Moon's south pole, a region of immense scientific interest. Permanently Shadowed Regions (PSRs) in this area have remained untouched by sunlight for billions of years, potentially preserving ancient materials and offering insights into the solar system's history. 

  • The presence of water ice in these regions adds to the allure, as water is a critical resource for future lunar endeavours, including potential human settlements.

Challenges faced by Chandrayaan 3  

Now that Chandrayaan 3 has landed, it’s also important to address the reality that how many challenges it had to face. Landing near the lunar south polehad always remained an uncharted territory due to the unique challenges posed by its environment. 

  • Traditionally, lunar landings have occurred in the equatorial region due to favourable conditions. For instance, even China's Chang'e 4, the first mission to land on the Moon's far side, chose a location closer to the 45-degree latitude for ease and safety.

  • Equatorial regions offer a hospitable environment with even terrain, milder temperatures, and optimal conditions for instrument operation. These areas feature smoother surfaces, minimal steep slopes, and fewer obstacles like hills and craters. Abundant sunlight on the Earth-facing side provides a consistent energy source for solar-powered instruments.

  • However, the lunar south pole presents a starkly different and challenging landscape. Many regions here remain in perpetual darkness, lacking sunlight and experiencing frigid temperatures that can plummet below -230 degrees Celsius. These factors hinder instrument operations and pose technical challenges. Large craters, ranging from small to massive, further complicate safe landings and scientific explorations in these areas.

But these obstacles didn't hinder Chandrayaan 3’s and India’s space ambitions.


The latest update regarding space missions is that India’s Chandrayaan-3 had landed and Russia’s Luna 25 unfortunately failed to land on 21st August. Both missions were aimed to land in a region where no spacecraft has gone before, near the South Pole of the Moon. India's Chandrayaan missions signifies our commitment to scientific exploration and technological innovation.  From the groundbreaking discoveries of Chandrayaan 1 to the determination demonstrated by Chandrayaan 2 and the success of Chandrayaan 3, India's lunar odyssey is a testament to human curiosity and the spirit of exploration. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for more such success ahead.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What is deboosting in space missions?

   Deboosting refers to the deliberate reduction of a spacecraft's speed or orbital altitude, often used to prepare for a controlled landing on a celestial body. In the context of Chandrayaan-3, the lander's successful deboosting operation is crucial to achieving a soft landing on the Moon's surface.

2. Why is there a focus on making soft landings at the lunar south pole?

   The lunar south pole is a region of great scientific interest due to the presence of Permanently Shadowed Regions (PSRs), where sunlight doesn't reach. These areas potentially preserve ancient materials and water ice, offering insights into the solar system's history. Soft landings are challenging but critical for exploring and studying these unique lunar features.

3. What caused the failure of Chandrayaan 2's Vikram lander?

   Chandrayaan 2's Vikram lander crashed on the Moon's surface due to technical complexities and system errors. It was intended to decelerate as it approached the Moon but maintained a high velocity, preventing a successful soft landing. However, the Chandrayaan 3 mission aims to rectify these issues.

4. How is Chandrayaan 3 addressed the setbacks of Chandrayaan 2?

   Chandrayaan 3 has reinforced landing legs, updated software, and enhanced redundancy measures to ensure a successful soft landing on the Moon's surface. Learning from the challenges faced during Chandrayaan 2, this mission aims to showcase India's capabilities in precision lunar landings.

5. What is the significance of Chandrayaan 3 for India's space aspirations?

   Chandrayaan 3 holds immense importance as it aims to overcome the challenges of its predecessor and establish India's credibility in lunar exploration. It showcases India's resilience and determination in the face of setbacks and represents a crucial step towards achieving its space goals.

About the Author: Devansh Dixit | 32 Post(s)

Devansh is a 4th-year law student from Amity Law School Noida (Uttar Pradesh), currently interning at Finology Legal. He is specialising in business and commercial laws. 

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