India has achieved a historic feat by successfully landing its third lunar mission, Chandrayaan-3, on the Moon’s surface today. The Vikram lander, carrying the Pragyan rover, touched down near the lunar south pole at 6:04 pm IST, making India the fourth country to soft-land on the Moon after the US, Russia and China.
The Chandrayaan-3 mission was launched on July 14, 2023, from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, on board Launch Vehicle Mark-III (LVM-3) rocket⁴⁵. The orbiter, which will orbit the Moon for a year, carries eight scientific instruments to study the lunar surface and atmosphere. The lander-rover, which will operate for 14 Earth days, carries four instruments to conduct experiments on the lunar soil and rocks.
The mission’s primary objective is to demonstrate India’s capability to soft-land on the Moon and operate a robotic rover on the lunar terrain. The mission also aims to explore the lunar south pole region, which is of scientific interest due to the presence of water ice and other volatiles in the permanently shadowed craters. The mission will also test new technologies such as variable thrust propulsion, autonomous landing and hazard avoidance.
The Chandrayaan-2 orbiter, however, is still functioning and providing valuable data to ISRO. The Chandrayaan-3 mission is a low-cost mission, as it reuses some of the hardware and software from the Chandrayaan-2 mission.
The successful landing of Chandrayaan-3 has been hailed as a major achievement for India’s space program and a proud moment for the nation. Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated ISRO and its chief Somanath for their remarkable accomplishment. He also spoke to the scientists and engineers at ISRO’s Mission Operations Complex in Bengaluru via video conference and praised their dedication and hard work. He said that India is on the Moon and that this is a testament to the talent and innovation of its youth.
ISRO has received support from NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) for the Chandrayaan-3 mission. NASA and ESA have been monitoring the health of the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft since its launch and providing tracking and communication services during its journey to the Moon¹. NASA also shared its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) data with ISRO to help select a suitable landing site for Chandrayaan-3.
The Chandrayaan-3 mission is part of India’s ambitious lunar exploration program, which began with Chandrayaan-1 in 2008. Chandrayaan-1 was India’s first lunar mission and it discovered evidence of water molecules on the Moon. India plans to launch more lunar missions in the future, including a human spaceflight program called Gaganyaan.
The Chandrayaan-3 mission is also a milestone for global cooperation in space exploration. It shows that countries can work together to advance scientific knowledge and benefit humanity. It also inspires young people around the world to pursue their dreams and aspirations in science and technology.
India has made history today by landing on the Moon with Chandrayaan-3. It has shown its prowess in space technology and its commitment to scientific discovery. It has also made its mark as a leader in lunar exploration and a partner in global space endeavors.