Who will the Moon welcome first: India’s Chandrayaan 3 or Russia’s Luna 25?

Russian spaceship Luna 25 has entered Lunar

Before India could celebrate being the first country in the world to land a spacecraft on the south pole of Moon, Russia seems to have put a dampener by being ready to pip it to the post.

Though ISRO claims to have not been in any kind of a race with Russia, because of the timing (both having spacecrafts in the Lunar orbit and trying to land) many feel it is a race between Russian and Indian space agencies.

One must realise and take into account that there is a big technological gap between Russia and India in this field.

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Actually apart from America, Russia and China no other country has sent spacecrafts onto the surface of the moon. America of course had had its men walk on the moon and happens to be the only country till today to have done that.

Russian spaceship Luna 25 has entered Lunar and has sent pictures it was launched on August 10, Chandrayaan 3 was launched to Moon way back in July 14 and was inserted it into the Lunar orbit on August 5.

Chandrayaan 3 has now supposed to have reached closer orbiting range to the moon completing all lunar-bound maneuvers.

The Chandrayaan 3, is scheduled to do soft-landing on lunar surface August 23 – 24 , 2023. The Luna 25 could do a soft landing on Lunar surface August 21-23.

The timings are so close to each other that one might just have both landing on Moon on August 23, which ISRO had initially announced as the landing date for Chandrayaan 3.

Though a race is being denied it is almost coming to a nail biting finish for this exciting space event.

The Luna 25 of Russia had left earth on August 10 on Soyuz-2 rocket to go to moon after a gap of nearly 50 years.

Besides these two countries China and the US too are showing interest to reach the South Pole of moon. It is the main aim of US in 2025 as part of the Artemis 3 mission to go to the south Pole of Moon.

Man took that big step for the first time in 1969 when Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin walked on Moon. Till today twelve other American white male have walked on the Moon.

Thereafter its novelty and purpose seems to have been lost once America won the space race to land a Man on moon, against Soviet Union.

It got bogged down with the Vietnam war, poverty, environmental crisis and other terrestrial problems. The NASA Budget was cut down as space program became less popular and people felt it waste of billions of dollars.

For half a century Moon was in the back burner but suddenly it has now again become the main attraction for space agencies.

The renewed interest was started by the United States of America which wanted to revisit Moon this time to stay. They wanted to land women and coloured people on the moon in their Artemis programme. They want to establish like many other countries Moon as base camp for deep space journeys to Mars and beyond, particularly in a race with Russia-China combine.

In this context the interest is on South Pole of Moon because it contains ice and water which would be good location for any future human habitation. This is essential because humans have to stay long tenures on the Moon if they have to go in for any mining activities for its rich resources.

The Russian Luna 25 probe will be on the Moon for one year to analyze lunar soil, searching for water and ice and do experiments about moon’s atmosphere.

Since August 5 when Chandrayaan 3 entered Lunar Orbit both the Russian and Chandrayaan are orbiting the Moon.

For Russia too Luna 25 launch is important because it too is interested in making a space base for future exploration in Moon jointly with China by 2030.

However both India and Russia have to keep their fingers crossed because soft landing is extremely delicate and crucial.

Israel’s private company Beresheet made a lunar mission had entered Lunar orbit but was lost in April 2019 landing attempt. In the same year India’s Chandrayaan 2 mission unfortunately crashed on moon.

Therefore the braking system and slowing down of spacecraft by use of thrusters while landing it is of extreme importance. The gravitational pull of the moon has to countered to avoid a crash.

A Japanese start up’s space craft also recently crashed on the Moon due to a sensor software miscalculating the actual and expected altitude.

The reason why Russia was able to beat India despite starting late is because of much powerful rockets which weigh less and travel faster. The Luna weighs 1750 kg compared to Chandrayaan 3 at 3900 kg.

With almost all space faring countries planning to go to the South Pole of Moon which has not been touched so far, Russia or India whoever is able to do it first, will be a historic first.

The interest in Moon’s South Pole is because it is the region where the presence of ice was confirmed in 2008 by Chandrayaan 1 with help of US instrument. The possibility of having water there could make it a possible site of human habitation.

If India succeeds, India would be joining the United States, the former Soviet Union and China as the only nations to perform a soft lunar landing and that too in the Moon’s south pole.
It would be another feather in India’s cap after the successful Mangalyaan mission, where the spacecraft entered Mars’ orbit in 2014 and ended its tenure in 2022 because it ran out of battery.

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