On 23 August, India’s Chandrayaan-3 unmanned mission landed on the Moon’s South Pole, becoming the first country to successfully touch down in that region of Earth’s natural satellite and fourth country to ever land on the Moon, after Russia, the USA and China.
We have achieved soft landing on the moon, India is on the moon.Sreedhara Panicker Somanath, Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation
This is a major breakthrough for India, as the country’s space presence increases. Developed with limited resources compared to other space nations, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has learned from 2019’s failed Chandrayaan-2 mission, using cost-effective practices to adapt and repurpose existing technology.
“[Landing on the Moon] is very difficult for any nation to achieve. But we have done so with just two attempts”, said ISRO Chairman Sreedhara Panicker Somanath. “It gives confidence to land on Mars and maybe Venus and other planets, maybe asteroids.”
[This is a] historic day for India’s space sector. Chandrayaan-3’s triumph mirrors the aspirations and capabilities of 1.4 billion Indians.Narendra Mondi, Prime Minister of India
Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Mondi, who, at the time of the landing, was at the BRICS summit (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) in South Africa, praised the event as “the moment for new, developing India”.
Launched on 14 July, the success of this mission is even more significant in the context of a similar attempt from Russia failing 3 days prior, the Luna-25 craft crashing into the Moon’s surface on 21 August. Russia, the Soviet Union at the time, was a frontrunner in reaching space, sending the first artificial satellite into orbit, the first man and the first woman into space. Space enthusiasts will also recall the dog Laika, the first animal sent to space, who made an orbital spaceflight around Earth aboard the Sputnik 2 craft. “That India managed to outdo Russia (…) speaks to the diverging fortunes of the two nations’ space programs”, wrote the New York Times.
Comprised of two modules, Vikram and Pragyan, Chandrayaan-3’s purpose is to get samples of the frozen water stored in the permanently shadowed craters of the lunar pole, which, if found in enough quantities, could be used by astronauts in future exploration missions.