India is the fourth country to contact the moon as the spacecraft lands near the lunar south pole
August 24, 2023: India is the fourth country to contact the moon as the spacecraft lands near the lunar south pole.
The feat makes India the fourth country to land on the moon and the first to land on one of the moon’s lunar poles. Previously, Russia, the U.S., and China landed spacecraft successfully on the moon.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tuned in to the live stream of the landing from Johannesburg, where he follows the 15th annual BRICS summit of emerging markets.
“All the people of the world, the people of every country and region: India’s successful moon mission is not just India’s alone. This success belongs to humanity,” Modi said, speaking on the Indian Space Research Organization webcast.
“We can all aspire for the moon and beyond,” Modi stated.
The lunar south pole has emerged as a place of exploration interest thanks to recent discoveries of traces of water ice on the moon. India previously attempted a lunar south pole landing in September 2019, but a software failure caused the Chandrayaan-2 mission to crash into the surface.
[The south pole is] an exciting, historical, scientific and geologic area that a lot of countries are trying to get at that can serve as a base for future exploration,” Wendy Cobb, professor of strategy and security studies at the U.S. Air Force School of Advanced Air and Space Studies, told.
Cobb added that discovering water on the moon’s south pole is “significant for future exploration,” as it could serve as a fuel source for rockets and spacecraft.
Days before the Chandrayaan-3 landing, Russia attempted to land its first spacecraft on the moon in almost 50 years. But the Luna-25 mission smashed into the lunar surface on Saturday, with Russian space agency Roscosmos confirming the spacecraft spun out of control.
Earlier this year, the first attempted landing by Japanese company Ispace also crashed in the final moments.
In the U.S., NASA has turned mainly to companies for this robotic exploration mission, with the agency instead focusing most of its effort on the lunar human spaceflight program Artemis.
Houston-based Intuitive Machines aims to launch its first cargo mission to the moon in November. Pittsburgh-based Astrobotics is preparing to launch its first lunar cargo mission within the following year.
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