While preparing for Chandrayaan-3’s landing on the Moon, the Indian spacecraft captured a beautiful video of the Moon as it completed its first orbital insertion earlier this month.
Despite being so close to our own planet, the Moon is actually one of the most difficult places to land a spacecraft, something that several countries have learned the hard way. In fact, less than half of all missions to land uncrewed spacecraft on the Moon have failed for several reasons.
While Indie has completed several orbital insertions at this point, the country has failed to put its spacecraft safely on the ground. Chandrayaan-3 is just the latest attempt to make this happen, and so far, things seem to be going well, with the spacecraft completing the first step of its journey earlier this month.
During that first step of the journey, Chandrayaan-3 actually captured a very beautiful video of the Moon slowly zooming up to meet the spacecraft. You can see the video, which was captured by the spacecraft on August 5 above, for a good look at just how close it is coming to the surface during these orbital insertions.
But why is it so difficult to put an unmanned spacecraft on the Moon’s surface? Well, a lot of that comes down to the fact that our Moon doesn’t have a thick atmosphere. In fact, the atmosphere there is so thin it doesn’t create any drag to help slow down spacecraft as they approach.
That’s why these orbital insertions are so important and why Chandrayaan-3’s landing on the Moon this year requires so many small movements to put it into the correct orbit, allowing it to slow naturally as it descends closer to our lunar satellite.
But the hard part is still to come. India has seen successful orbital insertions in the past. If it really wants to stick this moon landing, it will need to make sure that each consecutive orbital insertion goes according to plan and that the spacecraft is able to slow enough before making its final approach.
With our second moon race already kicking off and several countries rushing to put new spacecraft on the Moon, it’s only a matter of time before India gets it right. All we can do now is wait and see if this is that time or if that chance will come later, perhaps after NASA’s Artemis III mission finally returns humans to the Moon’s surface.