Chandrayaan-3’s Vikram lander will do proper touchdown even if engines fail: All about its design

Produced by: Tarun Mishra
Designed by: Mohsin Shaikh

Chandrayaan-3 is currently into the Moon’s orbit and will attempt to safely touchdown its Vikram lander on August 23, 2023

Two weeks before
Chandrayaan-3 touchdown

During the Chandrayaan-2 mission, while everything went according to the plan, the last stage of the mission failed, sending Vikram lander crashing to Moon's surface in an upside-down position. Five engines generating higher thrust, limitation of the software to detect errors and the small landing site were the reason given by ISRO for the landing mishap

ISRO learns from past folly

ISRO's Chairman S Somanath revealed that Chandrayaan-3's Vikram lander has a robust design, enabling it to achieve a soft landing on the Moon even if some sensors and two of its engines fail

Failsafe design of
Vikram lander

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During a talk on 'Chandrayaan-3: Bharat's Pride Space Mission', Somanath shared that Vikram's design ensures it can manage failures and still land safely, as long as the propulsion system functions

Resilient lunar touchdown

Somanath emphasised that Vikram's design incorporates algorithms to handle various failures, underscoring the importance of proper algorithm functioning for mission success

Algorithm-backed design

The ISRO chief highlighted the challenge of transitioning Vikram from a horizontal to a vertical orientation for lunar landing, a critical aspect following the previous mission's unsuccessful landing attempt

Vertical landing challenge

Drawing lessons from Chandrayaan-2 setback, Somanath stated that achieving a smooth transition from horizontal to vertical orientation is a key focus this time

Learning from past mistakes

The current mission's challenge also includes optimising fuel usage and ensuring accurate distance calculations to enable Vikram's accurate and safe landing

Precision in fuel

Somanath mentioned that the ISRO team has taken steps to ensure Vikram lands correctly even if there are slight variations in the calculations

Mitigating calculation

The core challenge lies in smoothly maneuvering Vikram from a horizontal trajectory to a vertical one for the final landing, a critical manoeuvre requiring precision

Horizontal to vertical

The integration of well-functioning algorithms is pivotal to Vikram's ability to manage various scenarios and achieve a successful landing

Algorithm-driven success

Vikram's design prioritises reliability by incorporating failsafe measures, aiming to address previous mission challenges and increase the chances of a successful lunar landing

Designing for reliability

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