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Why lunar touchdown offers real payoff for India

India is gearing up for its second lunar landing attempt, set for later this week. On August 23, Chandrayaan-3, India's third lunar

By Ground report
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Why lunar touchdown offers real payoff for India

India is gearing up for its second lunar landing attempt, set for later this week. On August 23, Chandrayaan-3, India's third lunar exploration mission, will make its bid to touch down on the Moon. The potential benefits go beyond national pride, as the success could open doors to tangible economic gains.

Chandrayaan-3, developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation, seeks to achieve what its predecessor, Chandrayaan-2, couldn't: a safe lunar landing. This achievement would place India among the elite group of countries—United States, Russia (formerly the Soviet Union), and China—that have softly landed on the lunar surface. Notably, crash landings like Chandrayaan-2's mishap don't count in this exclusive club.

The plan for Chandrayaan-3 includes not only landing but also deploying a rover to explore the Moon's southern pole. Beyond the personal sense of achievement for India, the mission's success could make a real impact on the country's economy.

Prior space endeavors have already brought tangible advantages to the world, such as clean drinking water through space station water recycling, global internet access courtesy of Starlink, advancements in solar energy, and breakthroughs in medical technologies.

Reports indicate that the space economy is on an exponential growth trajectory due to the increasing demand for global data, satellite imaging, and navigation. Private equity investment in companies in this sector has surpassed $272 billion since 2013, and the global space economy's value hit $546 billion in the second quarter of 2023—an impressive 91 percent growth over a decade.

For countries, venturing into the space economy carries potential downstream benefits for their economies and ignites enthusiasm for the new space age among citizens. In this context, India's space economy is projected to reach $13 billion by 2025.

By comparison, the Australian Civil Space Strategy 2019–2028 aims to triple the sector's contribution to GDP to AUD$12 billion and create an additional 20,000 jobs by 2030.

The achievement of a successful Moon landing not only underscores India's technological prowess but also reminds us of the intricate challenges that past lunar missions faced. NASA's Apollo Program succeeded in putting humans on the Moon over 50 years ago, yet the enormous effort, resources, and gradual advancements often go unnoticed. Concerns of landing on the Moon's soft, dusty surface, akin to quicksand, were unfounded but highlight the uncertainties that must be overcome.

Despite contemporary advanced technology, the hurdles of spaceflight endure—ensuring stable communication and autonomous operation amid extreme conditions.

India's previous attempt, Chandrayaan-1, accomplished numerous mission objectives, including detecting water on the lunar surface for the first time. Although the Indian Space Research Organisation lost contact with the spacecraft prematurely, it garnered recognition from the National Space Society and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Subsequent attempts like Chandrayaan-2 faced setbacks, attributed to onboard coordination issues and software glitches. Similar challenges led to failures in lunar landing endeavors by other countries as well.

Learning from these experiences, Chandrayaan-3 incorporates improvements. A larger landing zone reduces risks associated with drifting, and enhanced engines enable precise control throughout descent. Instruments on the Vikram lander, including a seismometer and a plasma probe, promise valuable insights.

The lunar rover Pragyan, carried by Vikram, hosts instruments to analyze lunar composition. Success of Chandrayaan-3 underscores growing accessibility to space, India's resilience in the face of challenges, and its role in the race to establish lunar infrastructure. Collaboration with China and Russia and participation in the Artemis program signal India's evolving stature.

Each successful mission expands our lunar understanding and mitigates associated risks. As Chandrayaan-3 embarks on its quest, the world watches, recognizing the potential rewards and the spirit of exploration.

This content is originally published under the Creative Commons license by 360info™. The Ground Report editorial team has made some changes to the original version.

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