Chandrayaan-3 Landing: The landing - due at 6.04 pm - will be telecast live across the country
On the wings of a billion prayers, India is at the gates of the elite space club with its second shot at moon landing. The Vikram lander is moving to the point from where it begins its downward journey. The "20 minutes of terror" begins at 5.44 pm.
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The touchdown -- due at 6.04 pm -- will be preceded by a number of subtle maneuverings. The Vikram, which is powered by four engines, has cut off two to lose speed over the last 30 km and achieve the tricky soft landing.
The power descent has now started. The lander, which was in a horizontal position, has turned and achieved a vertical position for the landing.
A successful landing will kick up a lot of fine dust. The rover Pragyan will roll out only after the dust moves away. unlike earth, the dust will not settle readily in moon, given its far weaker gravitation.
The event is being telecast live across the country. The ISRO website, YouTube channel and DD national is airing live feed. Schools are open and space enthusiasts are organising parties in anticipation of the historic moment. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is attending the BRICS summit in South Africa, has joined in online.
The suspense has been ratcheted up by the failure of Russian moon mission Luna-25, which crashed on the moon surface on Sunday during landing. In 2019, the Chandrayaan-2 mission had failed to land safely in the same area, which is full of craters and deep trenches. If successful, India will be the fourth country to land a rover on moon after Russia, United States and China.
Space agency ISRO has expressed confidence that the landing will take place without a hitch, as the scientists have incorporated all the valuable lessons they learnt from Chandrayaan-2.
The location has been chosen with care. The area, which yielded traces of water, is expected hold the key on lunar water ice, which could be a hugely valuable resource. That there is water on the moon's surface was detected by a NASA instrument aboard the ISRO's Chandrayaan-1 probe in 2009.
The presence of water holds hope for future moon missions - it could be used as a source of drinking water, to cool equipment and broken down to produce oxygen. It can also have clues to the origins of oceans.
The moon lander was launched on July 14, perched on a LVM 3 heavy-lift launch vehicle. It was placed in the lunar orbit on August 5. The lander Vikram is named after Vikram Sarabhai, who is widely regarded as the father of the Indian space programme.
After the moon mission, ISRO has a number of projects lined up - one of them a mission to study the Sun, and a human space flight programme, Gaganyaan. Aditya-L1, the first space-based Indian observatory to study the Sun, is getting ready for the launch, most likely in the first week of September.