India returns Chandrayaan-3 moon mission’s propulsion module to Earth orbit

The spacecraft that ferried India’s Chandrayaan-3 lander-rover duo to the moon has returned home — sort of.

In a surprise announcement on Monday (Dec. 4), the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said it had moved Chandrayaan-3‘s propulsion module out of lunar orbit and placed it high above Earth for a bonus mission, where it now survives on leftover fuel. The new experiment will demonstrate technologies that will help Indian scientists bring samples from the moon to Earth someday, ISRO said.