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Chandrayaan-3 Propulsion Module’s Earth Return

By Amigos IAS

Why is it in the news?

  • The Propulsion Module (PM) of Chandrayaan-3 successfully returned to Earth’s orbit, a significant achievement in lunar exploration.


About Chandrayaan-3

·       Chandrayaan-3 is a sequel to Chandrayaan-2, focusing on demonstrating ISRO’s lunar landing and roving capabilities.

·       Components include an indigenous propulsion module, a lander module (Vikram), and a rover (Pragyaan).

·       The mission aims to develop and showcase new technologies crucial for future inter-planetary endeavours.

·       The propulsion module is responsible for transporting the lander and rover configuration to the lunar orbit. It carries the SHAPE payload for studying spectral and polarimetric measurements of Earth from lunar orbit.

·       Vikram Lander successfully landed on the Moon on August 23rd, and the Pragyaan rover was deployed for further exploration.

·       Chandrayaan-3’s success elevates India to the ranks of nations with successful lunar landings, joining the United States, Russia, and China.



More about the news

  • The propulsion module is a box-shaped component of the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft. It is powered by solar panels.
  • The primary goal is to transport the Lander module to the final lunar polar circular orbit and facilitate its separation.
  • After separation, the propulsion module also operates the SHAPE payload, planned to last about three months during the mission life.
  • Chandrayaan-3’s propulsion module was moved out of lunar orbit on December 4th for a bonus mission, demonstrating technologies for future lunar sample return missions.
  • The module is now positioned high above Earth, surviving on leftover fuel.
  • However, ISRO has not disclosed the plans for the spacecraft when it exhausts its fuel.


Significance of Propulsion Module Coming Back to Earth’s Orbit

  • Planning and execution of trajectory and manoeuvre to return from Moon to Earth.
  • Development of a software module for planning such manoeuvre, with preliminary validation.
  • Planning and execution of a gravity-assisted flyby across a planet/celestial body.
  • Preventing uncontrolled crashing of the propulsion module on the Moon’s surface at the end of its life, meeting the requirement of no debris creation.


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