The title of a 2016 blog post by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), ‘Think You’re Stressed? Try Being A Rocket’, captures well the exceptionally harsh environment a spacecraft endures during launch.
Part of this “harsh environment” is the vibrations and acoustics of the entire system being lifted up.
The spacecraft to be used in India’s third Moon mission will have to face up to these conditions as well, and then some, because Chandrayaan-3 is an integrated system composed of three modules — the propulsion, lander, and rover modules.
The Chandrayaan-3 craft was, thus, put to the test at Bengaluru-based U R Rao Satellite Centre in the first week of March to prove that it can hold its own against those tough conditions.
“These tests are an essential part of the qualification & acceptance process for any spacecraft,” the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said.
The Indian space agency confirmed on 17 March that the spacecraft was able to withstand the harsh vibration and acoustic environment that it would face at launch.
The successful testing on the integrated spacecraft “provided sufficient confidence on the structural integrity and survivability in the launch environment,” ISRO said, calling it “yet another milestone”.
The Chandrayaan-3 integrated system has been undergoing various essential pre-launch tests, as it makes its way gradually to a grand launch this year.
The flight acceptance hot test of the CE-20 cryogenic engine was carried out successfully at the ISRO Propulsion Complex at Mahendragiri in Tamil Nadu on 24 February. This engine will power the cryogenic upper stage of the launch vehicle for the Chandrayaan-3 mission.
Before that, a test of the Chandrayaan-3 lander had thrown a satisfactory result.
The “EMI/EMC test” was held between 31 January and 2 February at U R Rao Satellite Centre, the same place where the integrated module dynamic tests (testing against vibrations and acoustics) were conducted.
“EMI” and “EMC” are short for electromagnetic interference and electromagnetic compatibility respectively.
Chandrayaan-3 is set to be India’s third Moon mission, and the second to try and touchdown on the lunar surface. It will aim to demonstrate safe and “soft” (controlled) landing and roving on the surface of the Moon through its lander-rover configuration. It will explore the highlands near the lunar south pole.
In the process, it will test out technologies required for interplanetary missions, such as altimetres, velocimetres, propulsion; navigation, guidance, and control; and hazard detection and avoidance.
The lander and rover have scientific payloads to carry out experiments on the lunar surface. The rover will carry out in-situ chemical analysis of the surface as it traverses the selected terrain.
The lander and rover will have a mission life of one lunar day, which is roughly 14 Earth days.
The launch vehicle-mark 3 (LVM3) heavy-lift rocket will launch Chandrayaan-3 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) in Sriharikota, off the coast of Andhra Pradesh.
The launch is expected sometime this year, with June as a likely option.
Karan Kamble writes on science and technology. He occasionally wears the hat of a video anchor for Swarajya's online video programmes.
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