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ISRO moves Chandrayaan-3 propulsion module to orbit around Earth in unique experiment

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) said on the Vikram Lander, the Propulsion Module (PM) of Chandrayaan-3 was moved from an orbit around the Moon to an orbit around the Earth.

ISRO moves Chandrayaan-3 propulsion module to orbit around Earth in unique experiment gcw
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First Published Dec 5, 2023, 8:45 AM IST

The Indian Space Research Organization  (ISRO) has announced that the Propulsion Module (PM) of Chandrayaan-3 has been shifted from an orbit around the Moon to an orbit around Earth, calling the operation a one-of-a-kind experiment. The Chandrayaan-3 mission's major goal was to show a gentle landing near the lunar south pole area and conduct experiments utilising the equipment aboard the 'Vikram' lander and the 'Pragyan' rover.

"In another unique experiment, like the hop experiment on the Vikram Lander, the Propulsion Module (PM) of Chandrayaan-3 was moved from an orbit around Moon to an orbit around Earth," ISRO said in a statement released on December 4.

The spacecraft was launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC-SHAR) on July 14, 2023, aboard the LVM3-M4 rocket.The Vikram lander landed on the Moon for the first time on August 23, and the Pragyan rover was launched shortly after.

The major goal of the Propulsion Module was to transport the lander module from Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO) to the final lunar polar circular orbit and detach the lander, according to the mission. The Spectro-polarimetry of HAbitable Planet Earth (SHAPE) payload in the PM was likewise operational after the separation, according to the space agency.

The initial goal was to run this payload for around three months during the PM's mission life. It noted that after more than a month of operations in lunar orbit, the exact orbit injection by LVM3 and appropriate earth or lunar burn manoeuvres resulted in the availability of more than 100 kg of fuel in the PM.

According to ISRO, it was decided to use the remaining fuel in the PM to gather extra data for future lunar missions and to show mission operating tactics for a sample return trip. To continue the SHAPE payload for earth observation, it was decided to re-orbit the PM to a suitable earth orbit.

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