Chandrayaan-3: Indian lunar mission inches closer to Moon
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A lander and rover will be landed by India’s third lunar mission on 23 August at the Moon’s little-explored south pole.

Thursday, the lander detached from the propulsion module, which carried it close to the Moon.

In the event that a new Russian mission beats Chandrayaan-3 to the south pole, Chandrayaan-3 may not be the first to land on the pole.

Launched last week, Luna-25 is expected to land a day or two earlier than expected.

Chandrayaan-3 will have to settle for second place if the Russian spacecraft is successful in making a soft landing on the Moon on 21st or 22nd August as planned.

Despite this, India will still be only the fourth country after the US, China, and the former Soviet Union to land softly on the moon.

The Indian Space Research Agency (Isro) announced on Thursday that the landing module will descend to a slightly lower orbit following a “deboosting” on Friday at 4pm IST (11.30 am BST). On 23 August, it will begin its final descent for landing on the Moon.

The Russian space agency Roscosmos announced on Wednesday that Luna-25 was launched on 10 August, but propelled by the much more powerful Soyuz rocket, it escaped Earth’s gravity within a short time and reached lunar orbit.

Chandrayaan-3 launched on 14 July, but went around the Earth a few times before entering lunar orbit on 5 August. Since then, the spacecraft has been orbiting the Moon in preparation for landing. “Mini space races” are being described as the two missions aiming for the Moon.

According to the BBC, the two nations will have a new ‘meeting point’ on the moon and it won’t be a race.

According to an Isro spokesman, “Isro has never been in a race since its inception in the 1960s.”.

The mission was planned based on the spacecraft’s readiness and the available technical window to reach the Moon’s far side. Luna-25 was also planned a long time ago. They must have some technical considerations as well, which we don’t know exactly,” he said.