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India Successfully Lands on the Moon

moon rover
Indian Vikram Lander uncovered. Credit: Joao Alves / CC BY 2.0

The Indian Space Research Organisation, IRSO, has just landed on the Moon’s south pole, making it the fourth country to land on the Moon after Russia, China, and the United States.

Just days after the failed Russian Moon mission that resulted in a crash, India managed to land on the Moon with its Vikram Lander at around 12:35 GMT. They had a successful soft landing. Indian scientists along with President Modi and the rest of the country watched in hesitation as the spacecraft landed on the Moon. The spacecraft is carrying a twenty-six kilogram rover called Pragyaan (Sanskrit: wisdom), which will be attempting to detect water deposits.

Chandrayaan-3 (Sanskrit for “moon craft”) took off from a launchpad in Sriharikota in southern India. At the end of July, the Moon craft along with an orbiter, a lander, and a rover began its journey towards the Moon. In an extraordinary demonstration of technological advancement and soft power, India has conquered the Moon on its impressive mission to look for water.

Chandrayaan-3 is a lander and rover model meant to provide data to the scientific community. Looking at the properties of lunar soil and rocks, including chemical and elemental compositions, the mission is meant to advance our understanding of space, said Dr. Jitendra Singh, junior minister for Science and Technology.

Failed Moon Missions

In 2019, India’s attempt to land a robotic spacecraft near the relatively unexplored south pole of the Moon ended in failure. While the spacecraft managed to enter lunar orbit, communication was lost with the lander during its final descent.

This unfortunate event occurred as the lander attempted to deploy a rover with the aim of investigating potential water sources. A thorough analysis revealed that a software glitch was the root cause of the crash, as reported to the ISRO.

The soft-power victory for India comes immediately after Russia’s first mission to the Moon in nearly fifty years ended in failure on Sunday. This was when its Luna-25 crashed into the surface of the Moon. Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, commented: “At around 2:57 pm Moscow time, communication with Luna-25 was interrupted.

The device switched to an unplanned orbit and ceased to exist as a result of a collision with the surface of the Moon.”

Director general Yury Borisov blamed the crash on the decades-long break in the lunar program, noting that the craft’s engines had not been switched off properly.

BRICS Takes to Social Media

As India strives to become the fourth nation to achieve a lunar landing, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has expressed his optimism and solidarity in the Chandrayaan-3 mission. President Ramaphosa conveyed his confidence alongside a photo featuring him and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. They took to X, stating that:

“We also congratulated India on the imminent and historic landing of the Chandrayaan 3 on the south side of the Moon.”

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