India has achieved a historic milestone by becoming the inaugural nation to achieve a successful spacecraft landing near the southern pole of the moon. This significant event sparked celebrations at various gatherings across the country.
Referred to as Chandrayaan-3, signifying “mooncraft” in Sanskrit, the mission successfully executed the landing of its Vikram lander shortly after 6pm (1230 GMT) at the relatively unexplored lunar south pole, marking a groundbreaking achievement within the realm of space programs globally.
For India, this triumphant landing stands as a testament to its emergence as a potent player in space technology. Concurrently, the government aims to foster investment in private space launches and satellite-related enterprises.
People throughout the nation were riveted to their television screens, offering prayers as the spacecraft descended toward the lunar surface. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi participated in the event, observing the landing from South Africa where he was attending the Brics summit.
The mission commenced almost six weeks ago, drawing the enthusiastic cheers of thousands of spectators. This journey took considerably longer compared to the rapid lunar arrivals of the Apollo missions during the 1960s and 1970s. The Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft, utilizing less potent rockets than those employed by the US, adopted a strategy involving multiple orbits around Earth to gather speed before embarking on its month-long trajectory to the moon.
The intricacies of the southern pole’s rough terrain posed a formidable challenge for a successful landing. Notably, the presence of water ice within this region holds the potential to serve as a resource for future missions, offering fuel, oxygen, and even drinking water.
This endeavor marked India’s second endeavor to land a spacecraft on the moon. The ISRO’s Chandrayaan-2 mission, in 2019, accomplished the deployment of an orbiter but faced a setback as its lander crashed.
Recently, Russia’s own lunar mission, aiming for the south pole after a 47-year hiatus, encountered failure as the Luna-25 spacecraft lost control and collided with the lunar surface.
A notable future prospect involves a six-wheeled rover set to explore the lunar expanse, collecting invaluable data and capturing images.
The Chandrayaan-3 mission anticipates a functional duration of two weeks, conducting a series of experiments that encompass an analysis of the lunar surface’s mineral composition using a spectrometer.