Chandrayaan-3 back on Earth! ISRO confirms controlled disposal after successful mission


The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) has announced that the cryogenic upper stage of the LVM3 M4 launch vehicle, which played a crucial role in the successful deployment of the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft into its designated orbit on July 14, 2023, has completed an uncontrolled re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere.

The event occurred at approximately 14:42 IST on Wednesday.

This particular rocket body was an integral component of the LVM3 M4 launch vehicle, a part of Isro’s ambitious lunar exploration program.

The re-entry took place within 124 days following the launch, showcasing compliance with the “25-year rule” set forth by the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC). This guideline is designed to mitigate space debris by ensuring that defunct satellites and rocket stages in low-Earth orbit re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere within a quarter-century post-mission.

In preparation for this re-entry, the upper stage underwent a process known as “passivation.” This procedure involves the removal of all residual propellants and potential energy sources within the spent stage to significantly reduce the risk of accidental explosions.

Such measures are in line with the stringent space debris mitigation guidelines prescribed by both the United Nations and IADC.

The successful passivation and subsequent disposal of the rocket body not only demonstrate Isro’s technical prowess but also its unwavering commitment to upholding the long-term sustainability of outer space activities. By adhering to internationally recognized standards, Isro reinforces its position as a responsible participant in the global space community.

The Chandrayaan-3 mission, which includes a lander and rover configuration, furthered India’s capabilities in safe lunar landing and roving. The mission’s success and the controlled disposal of its launch vehicle’s upper stage represent a dual achievement for Isro, highlighting India’s growing expertise in space exploration and its dedication to environmental stewardship in space.