India launches first rocket to moon four years after ‘software glitch’ disaster

India has successfully launched its first ever rocket to the moon, just four years after its last attempt ended in catastrophic failure.

Chandrayaan-3 blasted off from the Second Launch Pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India earlier today (July 14).

The rocket, named after the word for “moon craft” in Sanskrit, took off from a launch pad in southern India with an orbiter, a lander and a rover on-board, in a demonstration of India’s emerging space technology.

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The spacecraft is set to embark on a journey lasting slightly over a month before landing on the moon’s surface later in August.

A successful landing would make India the fourth country — after the United States, the Soviet Union, and China — to achieve the feat.

The six-wheeled lander and rover module of Chandrayaan-3 is configured with payloads that would provide data to the scientific community on the properties of lunar soil and rocks, including chemical and elemental compositions, said Dr. Jitendra Singh, junior minister for Science and Technology.

India’s previous attempt to land a £120 million robotic spacecraft near the moon’s little-explored south pole ended in failure in 2019. It entered the lunar orbit but lost touch with its lander that crashed while making its final descent to deploy a rover to search for signs of water. According to a failure analysis report submitted to the Indian Space Research Organisation, the crash was caused by a software glitch.

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However, today's take off was a success, as the satellite separated successfully from the rocket around 20 minutes after take off, with one of the men involved telling a life-stream of the event that it was “exciting” for India's space community.

Director Nilesh Desai said: “This is historic. I am sure that we will succeed in our efforts to land on the moon, and I wish all the best to everyone who has contributed to this.”

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