On Wednesday, an Indian spacecraft landed on the moon in a mission deemed crucial to lunar exploration and India’s status as a space power, just days after an identical Russian lander crashed.
“This is the victory cry of a new India,” said Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was spotted waiving the Indian flag while watching the landing from South Africa, where he is attending the BRICS summit.
As the spacecraft landed, scientists and government officials applauded, praised, and embraced one another. The government now seeks to encourage investment in private space launches and related satellite businesses.
“India is on the moon,” said S. Somanath, the head of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), as the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft landed at the south pole of the moon.
This was India’s second attempt to land a spacecraft on the moon, occurring less than a week after the failure of the Russian Luna-25 mission. As the spacecraft approached the planet’s surface, people across the nation were riveted to their televisions and praying.
Chandrayaan translates to “moon vehicle” in both Hindi and Sanskrit. The Chandrayaan-2 mission successfully deployed an orbiter in 2019, but its lander collapsed.
The Chandrayaan-3 is expected to operate for two weeks, conducting a series of investigations including a spectrometer analysis of the lunar surface’s mineral composition.
descent at the south pole is difficult due to the terrain, and the first descent is historic. Future missions could obtain fuel, oxygen, and water from the region’s glaciers.
“Landing on the south pole (of the moon) would actually enable India to investigate whether or not the moon contains water ice. Carla Filotico, a partner and managing director at the consulting firm SpaceTec Partners, emphasized the significance of this for lunar geology science and data accumulation.
There was intense anticipation prior to the landing, with news outlets and newspapers in India publishing countdowns to the landing.
As they awaited live broadcasts of the landing, pupils waved the Indian tricolor and prayed at places of worship across the nation.
Children convened on the Hindu holy Ganga river to pray for a safe landing, and mosques in multiple locations also offered prayers.
Petroleum Minister Hardeep Singh Puri also offered condolences for Chandrayaan at a gurduwara, or Sikh temple, in the Indian capital of New Delhi.
“Not only economically, but also scientifically and technologically, India is advancing,” Puri told reporters.
Nivedita Bhattacharjee in Bengaluru and Sunil Kataria for additional reporting; Shilpa Jamkhandikar and Shivam Patel for writing; Gerry Doyle, Angus MacSwan, and Nick Macfie for editing.