The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) recently reported an anticipated re-entry of Chandrayaan 3’s cryogenic upper stage into Earth’s atmosphere, with a splashdown in the North Pacific Ocean. In a statement, ISRO revealed that the uncontrolled re-entry occurred around 14:42 IST on Wednesday.
Chandrayaan 3, India’s third lunar mission, embarked on its journey from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota on July 14. The Vikram lander, accompanied by the Pragyan Rover, successfully touched down on the moon on August 23, marking India as the first country to achieve a controlled lunar landing near the South Pole and the fourth globally to do so.
Following the lunar exploration, the lander and rover entered sleep mode, while the propulsion module continued to orbit the moon after separating from the lander.
ISRO specified that the rocket body (NORAD id 57321), part of the launch vehicle that injected Chandrayaan-3 into its intended orbit, re-entered Earth’s atmosphere within 124 days of launch. Notably, this timeline adheres to the “25-year rule” for Low Earth Orbit objects, as recommended by the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC).
The space agency highlighted its commitment to global compliances, emphasizing that the rocket body underwent “passivation” post-Chandrayaan-3 injection. Passivation involves removing residual propellant and energy sources to minimize the risk of accidental explosions, aligning with space debris mitigation guidelines set by the United Nations and IADC.
The responsible disposal of the rocket body underscores India’s dedication to preserving the long-term sustainability of outer space activities. ISRO’s adherence to internationally accepted guidelines demonstrates a commitment to environmental stewardship in space exploration.