The leaders said, “Team Isro has been breathing, eating, drinking Chandrayaan-3 for the last 3-4 years. Since the day we started building our spacecraft after Chandrayaan-2, it has been breathe in and breathe out Chandrayaan-3 for our team. Today we are celebrating, tomorrow we will be on our toes for another mission,” said A Rajarajan, director of Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota.”
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The leaders who led from the front for the Chandrayaan-3 success:
Team leader, Isro chairman S Somanath:
Within just a year of taking charge of Isro on January 14, 2022, S Somanath took upon the challenge of taking India to the south pole of Moon. Before taking over as the head of the space agency, he was the director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre and had handled the charge of repairing the rocket of Chandrayaan-2 in the shortest possible time to make it ready for the re-launch on July 22, 2019. Now, as Isro chairman, he changed the strategy of the softlanding after the Chandrayaan-2 crashlanding. He said “instead of focusing on achieving success, we focussed on eliminating failures” and his strategy worked. Somanath attributed four big challenges for the success of this landing mission. He said the perfect liftoff of LVM-3 rocket on July 14, 2023 gave Team Isro a good advantage as the spacecraft was placed in a perfect orbit and no extra fuel was spent to correct the orbit. Second big challenge was the spacecraft capturing the Moon’s orbit while travelling in the linear trajectory. The team was tense because the spacecraft was travelling at a very high speed and capturing the Moon’s orbit was very challenging. “But we did it without any problem, he said. The third challenge was the propulsion-lander module separation and the last was today’s landing mission, which was the most challenging task. He credited the success of today’s landing success to the Team Isro who toiled for years to make Vikram a perfect lander.
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P Veeramuthuvel: Project director of Chandrayaan-3 mission:
Veeramuthuvel was the most important part of this moon mission. Known for his technical acumen, Veeramuthuvel played a key role in the Chandrayaan-2 mission too. “It’s a great moment of happiness. On behalf of the team it gives me immense satisfaction on achieving this goal as the Project Director of the mission. The entire mission operations right from launch till landing happened flawlessly as per the timeline,” the project director said after the landing. Thanking the navigation guidance and control team, propulsion team, sensors team and all the mainframe subsystems teams, who have brought success to the mission, Veeramuthuvel expressed his gratitude to the critical operations review committee for thoroughly reviewing the mission operations right from launch till date. “The target was on spot, because of the review process,” he said .
Kalpana K, deputy project director, Chandrayaan-3:
Kalpana. K is an aerospace engineer and currently serves as the deputy project director of the Chandrayaan-3 mission.She has been instrumental in the construction of various satellites of India and was involved in the Chandrayaan-2 and Mangalyaan missions. During the press interaction on Wednesday, Kalpana said, “This is the most memorable and happiest moment for all of us. We have achieved our goal flawlessly. This happened due to the immense effort of our Chandrayaan-3 team. Since the day we started building our spacecraft after Chandrayaan-2, it has been breathe in and breathe out for our team. Starting from the reconfiguration to all the tests, we have done them meticulously.” Not forgetting the efforts of all the seniors and veteran scientists, she said that “it is due to the guidance of the Isro chairman, all our directors and seniors, we have achieved this success.”
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Nilesh M. Desai: Space Applications Centre (SAC), Ahmedabad, director:
Desai as head of the Space Applications Centre (SAC) was given the task of making the critical components of the spacecraft. Desai told TOI the SAC built 11 sensors or subsystems for the spacecraft. Eight of them are advanced cameras. He said a critical component Laser Doppler Velocimeter (LDV) was introduced this time, allowing measuring altitude in 3 directions for better understanding of speed during testing. He told TOI that the rover is expected to cover a distance of 500 metre after rolling out of the lander’s belly. It has two two sensors that will do elemental and chemical composition of the lunar regolith. The data from the lander and rover will come in real time. “Though we may get data after a delay of some time due to the long distance, the data will be fresh directly from the payloads on board the lander and rover as they operate,” he told TOI.
S. Unnikrishnan Nair, Thiruvananthapuram-based Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) director:
Unnikrishnan is the man behind the development of LVM-3 rocket, also called Bahubali of Isro that lifted off Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft from Sriharikota. His predecessor was S Somanath. He told TOI the reason to go to the south pole was “we want to explore the unexplored. We wanted to explore that region more where our Chandrayaan-1 and 2 found evidence of water from an altitude”. “We need to have more future moon missions to know more about this unexplored region of the Moon,” he said. “As LVM-3 has established itself as a trusted launcher, we will launch more missions, not only to Moon, but also to the Sun and Venus,” he said.
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A Rajarajan, Director of Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota:
Rajarajan is the man behind all launches from the Indian spaceport in Sriharikota. He looks after all small to big launches ie. from SSLV to LVM-3 rockets from SDSC. He told TOI that “this mission has proved that Isro has now achieved the technology for soft-landing on Moon. “For its success, we had done a lot of experiments and finally Team India proved its ,” he said. Rajarajan said “today we are celebrating after the moon mission success, tomorrow we will be on our toes for another mission. As PM Modi and chairman sir have said that we need to plan for Aditya L1 mission, we will be now busy with the solar mission,” he said. He said the Aditya L1 mission will be launched in September first week and “we are preparations are almost done”.
M. Sankaran, Bengaluru-based U R Rao Satellite Centre director:
Since 2021, Sankaran has been director at U R Rao Satellite Centre (URSC), which is responsible for developing satellites that meet India’s diverse needs such as communication, navigation, remote sensing, weather forecasting, and planetary exploration. During his 35 years of stint in URSC and Isro, he has contributed primarily in the areas of solar arrays, power systems, Satellite Positioning System and RF communication systems for Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites, geostationary and navigation satellites, and outer space missions like Chandrayaan, Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM). On Wednesday, Sankaran thanked the entire project team for their immense hard work. “The team has been breathing, eating, drinking Chandrayaan-3 for the last 3-4 years. Much effort has gone into fine-tuning navigation and propulsion system, and a number of simulations done to perfect the landing operations. They overcame the criticism, worked so hard that we landed today due to their effort. My heart goes out to all of them. Hard work and team spirit are what Isro has taught us. We have set the bar so high. We have now to put a man in space and put our spacecraft in Venus and Mars. We will make our country proud again and again.”
Chandrayaan-3: India’s Third Lunar Mission Lands on the Moon in THIS Historic Moment