Chandrayaan-3, India’s latest lunar mission, has achieved a historic milestone by successfully landing on the moon’s surface. This achievement comes after the setback of its predecessor, Chandrayaan-2, in 2019. The landing, which took place as planned on Wednesday at 5:34 am PT (6:04 pm IST), makes India the fourth nation globally to achieve a soft landing on the moon, following the former Soviet Union, the U.S., and China. What sets this achievement apart is that India is the first country to successfully land on the lunar south pole, a region of great scientific interest.
Addressing the audience after the successful landing, ISRO chairman S. Somanath expressed his gratitude to the thousands of scientists, engineers, staff, and industries involved in the mission. Chandrayaan-3’s success is a testament to their hard work and dedication.
The Chandrayaan-3 mission, launched on July 14th by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), aims to demonstrate safe lunar landing and rover operations while conducting scientific experiments. Despite a budget of less than $75 million, the spacecraft consists of a propulsion module, lander, and rover, equipped with seven scientific instruments.
To overcome the challenges faced by its predecessor, Chandrayaan-3 features improved sensors, software, and propulsion systems in its lander. Rigorous simulations and testing were conducted to ensure a robust landing. The lander will conduct experiments on various aspects, including seismic vibrations, lunar temperature, and spectral signatures of Earth.
The Chandrayaan-3 rover, similar to that of Chandrayaan-2, will accompany the lander. Both the lander and rover have a mission life of one lunar day, equivalent to 14 Earth days.
This achievement comes 14 years after India’s first moon landing mission in 2008, which discovered evidence of water molecules in the lunar atmosphere. While the Chandrayaan-2 lander-rover mission faced challenges during its touchdown, the orbiter continues to study the moon from orbit and played a critical role in locating the landing site for Chandrayaan-3.
India’s space exploration efforts have seen significant growth in recent years, with over a hundred space tech startups contributing to the development of launch vehicles, satellites, and earth imaging technology. The country has also introduced a space policy to foster collaboration between private companies and government entities.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasized that India’s moon mission is a shared achievement that belongs to all of humanity. He noted that India’s approach of “one Earth, one family, one future” resonates globally and that India’s success will benefit future moon missions by other countries.
ISRO has a list of missions in progress, including the long-anticipated human spaceflight mission, Gaganyaan, and the solar observatory project, Aditya L1, to study the sun.
India’s collaboration with NASA, including signing the Artemis Accords, signifies its growing role in international space exploration. NASA is providing advanced training to Indian astronauts and planning to send them to the International Space Station next year. Additionally, ISRO and NASA are working together to launch a low-Earth observatory (LEO) in 2024, which will provide valuable data for studying Earth’s ecosystems, ice mass, vegetation, sea level, and natural disasters.
Chandrayaan-3’s successful lunar landing is a significant step forward for India’s space program, inspiring further exploration and collaboration on the global stage.