Bengaluru, Aug 23 (The Street Press) – On Wednesday, an Indian spacecraft successfully touched down on the untamed southern pole of the moon—a pivotal mission for lunar exploration and India’s reputation as a space leader—mere days following the unfortunate crash of a comparable Russian lander.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, currently at a BRICS summit in South Africa, described it as the triumphant roar of a new India, while proudly holding the Indian flag as he observed the landing.
As the spacecraft touched down, scientists and officials erupted in applause, cheers, and embraces. Simultaneously, throughout India, people rejoiced by igniting fireworks and dancing on the streets in exuberant celebration.
“India is on the moon,” declared S. Somanath, head of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), upon the successful landing of the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft. This achievement places India as the fourth country to effectively land a spacecraft on the moon, following the United States, China, and Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin extended his congratulations to India through a message addressed to Prime Minister Modi, which was made public on the Kremlin website.
He noted that this significant advancement in space exploration stands as a testament to India’s remarkable strides in the realm of science and technology.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson extended his congratulations to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for the successful landing. “And congratulations to India on being the 4th country to successfully soft-land a spacecraft on the Moon,” he said on X, formerly Twitter. “We’re glad to be your partner on this mission!”
This marked India’s second endeavor to achieve a lunar spacecraft landing, and it occurred within a week of Russia’s Luna-25 mission setback. As the spacecraft approached the surface, people throughout the nation were riveted to their TV screens, offering prayers in anticipation of the event. The YouTube live stream garnered an audience of nearly 8 million viewers.
“Chandrayaan” translates to “moon vehicle” in Hindi and Sanskrit. In 2019, ISRO’s Chandrayaan-2 mission effectively deployed an orbiter, but its lander experienced a crash landing.
Chandrayaan-3 is anticipated to remain operational for a duration of two weeks, conducting a sequence of experiments, which includes utilizing a spectrometer to analyze the mineral composition of the lunar surface.
Somanath informed reporters that it will take a few hours or possibly a day for the moon rover to exit the spacecraft. He added that the successful landing has bolstered India’s confidence to expand its horizons, potentially embarking on missions to Mars and Venus.
In the pipeline is a sun study mission scheduled for launch in September, as stated by Somanath. Moreover, plans for a human space flight are in progress, with preparations expected to be ready by 2024, although an official date has yet to be announced.
The successful landing is projected to enhance India’s standing in the realm of cost-effective space engineering. Chandrayaan-3 was launched with a budget of approximately 6.15 billion rupees ($74 million), a cost lower than that of producing the 2013 Hollywood space film “Gravity”.
Given the challenging terrain of the south pole, achieving a landing there holds historical significance. The ice in this region could potentially serve as a resource for fuel, oxygen, and drinking water in future space missions.