Reuters, Aug. 23, BENGALURU – Just days after a comparable Russian lander crashed, an Indian spacecraft successfully touched down on the moon on Wednesday, completing a mission that is critical to lunar exploration and India’s status as a space power.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was spotted waving the Indian flag as he watched the landing from South Africa, where he is attending the BRICS meeting, said: “This is a victory cry of a new India.”
As the spacecraft touched down, scientists and government representatives applauded, hugged, and clapped. The government is now trying to encourage investment in satellite-related industries and private space missions.
S. Somanath, the head of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), announced that “India is on the moon” as the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft touched down on the lunar south pole.
This mission, which came less than a week after Russia’s Luna-25 mission failed, was India’s second attempt to land a spacecraft on the moon. As the spaceship reached the surface, viewers across the nation prayed while glued to their televisions.
In Hindi and Sanskrit, Chandrayaan is translated as “moon vehicle”. The orbiter on ISRO’s Chandrayaan-2 mission in 2019 was successfully launched, but the lander collapsed.
The Chandrayaan-3 is planned to continue operating for another two weeks while carrying out a number of experiments, including a spectrometer investigation of the lunar surface’s mineral makeup.
A landing at the south pole is challenging because to the rough terrain, and a first touchdown is significant. The ice in the area could provide future expeditions with water, oxygen, and fuel.
“India could investigate whether there is water ice on the moon by landing in the south pole of the moon. Carla Filotico, a partner and managing director of consultancy SpaceTec Partners, said that this is crucial for accumulating data and scientific knowledge about the geology of the moon.
There was intense anticipation leading up to the landing, and television stations and newspaper headlines in India ran countdowns.
As they awaited live broadcasts of the landing, schoolchildren waved the Indian tricolor and prayers were said at places of worship all around the nation.
Hindus consider the Ganga river to be sacred, and children gathered there to pray for a safe landing. There were also prayers said in mosques all around the country.
Petroleum Minister Hardeep Singh Puri also prayed for Chandrayaan in a Sikh temple, or gurduwara, in the nation’s capital, New Delhi.
India is making scientific and technological advancements in addition to economic advancements, Puri told reporters.
Writing by Shilpa Jamkhandikar and Shivam Patel; additional reporting by Sunil Kataria; editing by Gerry Doyle, Angus MacSwan, and Nick Macfie; reporting from Bengaluru by Nivedita Bhattacharjee;