Chandrayaan-3: A mission to the Moon, at a fraction of the cost
India's Chandrayaan-3 mission, which successfully landed near the moon's south pole, was built and launched at a budget of $75 million, significantly lower than Russia's Luna-25 mission, which cost $200 million. The success highlights India's ability to conduct exploratory missions at a much lower cost, positioning the country as a player in the global space industry. Chandrayaan-3 took 40 days to reach the moon using less powerful rockets and the slingshot method, compared to Luna-25's 10-day journey with more powerful thrusters.
New Delhi: Chandrayaan-3, which became the first spacecraft to land near the moon’s uncharted south pole on Wednesday, was built and launched at an estimated budget of $75 million, according to most recent information available.
In comparison, Russia’s Luna-25, which crashed while trying to reach the same area of the moon last week, took roughly $200 million to build and launch, making India’s programme notable for success despite requiring much lower spending. The mission itself, Isro officials said in the past and reiterated on Wednesday, was meant to demonstrate the Indian space agency’s aspirations of interplanetary travel and doing so at shoestring budgets unheard of in other countries.
Wednesday’s success also bodes well for the country’s attempts to open up its space sector. “The thing is that everyone wants to collaborate with agencies that can produce successful missions. But over the years we have established our place in the global space industry. We are known to successfully conduct exploratory missions at a much cheaper cost,” S Somanath, Isro chief, told HT in an interview on Tuesday.
The difference between Luna-25 and Chandrayaan-3 illustrates how Isro saved costs. The Russian craft was strapped with a more powerful rocket at launch, and had more powerful thrusters to boost its journey from Earth to moon — features that allowed it to complete the (eventually unsuccessful) journey in 10 days.
By comparison, Chandrayaan-3 took 40 days, using less powerful rockets. The additional days it spent in space were first, in gathering momentum, using the Earth’s gravity to slingshot to the moon after multiple revolutions around the planet (Luna-25 circumvented Earth just once), and then around the moon to slow down.
India’s approach was to make the mission more cost-effective by using the “slingshot” method, officials told HT shortly after the Luna-25 crash, stressing on the fact that comparisons may not be fair.