On Wednesday, a spacecraft named Vikram and a rover named Pragyan from India landed in the southern polar region of the moon. The two robots from the Chandrayaan-3 mission make India the first nation to reach this portion of the lunar surface in one piece and the fourth nation to ever land on the moon.
The Indian public is already extremely proud of the nation’s space program, which has orbited the moon and Mars and routinely launches satellites above the Earth despite having significantly fewer financial resources than other countries. But the accomplishment of Chandrayaan-3 may be even more satisfying.
“We have achieved a soft landing on the moon,” S. Somanath, the director of the Indian Space Research Organization, said just after 6 p.m. local time, after a roar reverberated through the ISRO compound. “India is located on the moon.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose visage was beamed into the control room’s screen in the final minutes from South Africa, where he is on an official visit, referred to the landing as “the moment for a new, developing India.”
Here is what you should know:
The Indian mission to the moon was launched in July, adopting a slower, more fuel-efficient route. Vikram outlasted its Russian counterpart, Luna-25, which was sent to the moon 13 days ago. It was scheduled to land in the same general area as the Indian aircraft on Monday, but it collapsed on Saturday due to an engine malfunction.
India’s ability to surpass the nation that launched the first satellite, man, and woman into space is a testament to its long-standing commitment to the science and technology required to support a space program. But the landing also occurs at a crucial time in the ascent of the South Asian superpower.
The 23rd of August was chosen as the landing date because the sun will rise at the landing site on that day. The mission is scheduled to conclude two weeks later at sunset. The solar-powered lander and rover will use a variety of instruments to conduct thermal, seismic, and mineralogical measurements at the surface.
The landing was viewed by approximately 7 million individuals on the Indian Space Research Organization’s YouTube channel and many more on Indian television.
The Deep Space Network, a network of large dish antennas operated by NASA, helps ISRO communicate with the ground. Currently, it displays Chandrayaan-3 transmitting and receiving signals.