Chandrayaan-3 Achieves Historic Lunar Landing, Marking India’s New Era in Space Exploration

Chandrayaan-3, the ambitious lunar mission, achieved a momentous milestone by becoming the inaugural spacecraft to touch down within a region of the moon’s surface believed to house substantial water ice within deep craters.

The spacecraft successfully executed its landing procedure just six weeks after its launch from an Andhra Pradesh spaceport aboard a rocket. The scene at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre was one of jubilation, as mission control erupted with cheers and applause upon confirming the successful touchdown.

Notably, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was present virtually during the momentous event, participating in a conference call from the space center. As the spacecraft gracefully landed, he proudly waved a small Indian flag, symbolizing the nation’s achievement.

In an address to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Prime Minister Modi delivered an exultant speech, referring to the achievement as the collective heartbeat of 1.4 billion citizens. He characterized it as a representation of the “new India,” encompassing fresh beginnings, innovative thinking, and renewed endeavors in the realm of space exploration.

“This is a feature of the shine of India – we made a promise and we made it true on the surface of the moon.

“This is an historic moment, and for every Indian, we are all very proud.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi after the Chandrayaan-3 landing

Turning his attention to the wider world, he said: “India’s successful moon mission is not just India’s alone.

“We can all aspire for the moon and beyond.”

He said India will now look into a future human flight mission to the moon.

Thousands of people across India crowded in offices, shops, homes and restaurants eagerly waiting to witness the outcome of the mission.

Journalists film the live telecast of spacecraft Chandrayaan-3 landing on the moon at ISRO's Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network facility in Bengaluru, India, Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2023. India was counting down to landing a spacecraft near the moon's south pole Wednesday, an unchartered territory that scientists believe could hold important reserves of frozen water and precious elements. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)
Image: Pic: AP

Following the successful landing, Chandrayaan-3 will only remain functional for two weeks, during which it will run a series of experiments to determine the mineral composition of the moon’s surface.

Much of the work will be done by a rover, which will be deployed by the spacecraft’s two-metre-high lander.

A view of the moon as viewed by the Chandrayaan-3 lander during Lunar Orbit Insertion on August 5, 2023 in this screengrab from a video released August 6, 2023. ISRO/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES. MANDATORY CREDIT.
Image: A view of the moon as viewed by the Chandrayaan-3. Pic: ISRO

Scientists have a particular interest in water ice, as it could be used for fuel, oxygen, and drinking water – with the mission laying the groundwork for a potential permanent base.

“They have stuck the landing, but the scientists in that control room won’t be truly happy until they get data from their spacecraft,” Tom Clarke, Sky News’ science and technology editor, said.

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Image: Chandrayaan-3

“Is everything working properly? Is it going to be able to achieve some of the objectives it set out to do? We don’t have that confirmation yet, although that’s not to say that we doubt it will come.

“It is a huge achievement,” Clarke said.

India’s landing follows Russia’s failed attempt, after their Luna-25 spacecraft crashed into the moon.

Previous attempts by India have also failed, with the south pole’s rough terrain making landings difficult.

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