Chandrayaan-3 is getting closer to the moon’s orbital path, from which it will gradually fall to the lunar surface in order to try a soft landing on August 23, according to Union Minister Jitendra Singh, who provided an update on the mission on Sunday.

“After leaving the Earth’s orbit, it will be drawn into the Moon’s orbit by its gravity…”It will gradually drop to the surface…After reaching orbit around the first week of August…it will scan the environment to determine which area of the lunar surface’s south pole is appropriate for landing…It will then arrive on August 23.”

India’s third moon mission, which launched on July 14, successfully completed its fourth orbit-raising manoeuvre on Thursday and will attempt its next orbit-raising manoeuvre on July 25 between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.

ISRO is carrying out a series of orbit-raising efforts to progressively raise the spacecraft into higher and higher orbits before attempting to go directly towards the moon. The spacecraft will thereafter gradually sink into lower and lower orbits around the moon. This procedure will continue until it reaches a circular orbit about 100 kilometres above the lunar surface, from where it will attempt a soft landing on August 23.

ISRO Chairman S. Somnath had stated that earthbound manoeuvres will continue until July 31, after which the spacecraft would perform lunar insertion, putting it on a track towards the Moon.

The mission comes nearly four years after Chandrayaan-2, which failed to make a planned soft landing on the lunar surface in September 2019. The main goals of the Chandrayaan-3 mission are to demonstrate end-to-end capability in safe landing and wandering on the lunar surface.

With the successful soft landing of this mission, India will join the United States, the former Soviet Union, and China as the fourth nation to have done so.

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