A spacecraft lands on the Moon’s south pole, as India achieves a world’s first in lunar travel.
The Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft launched from Satish Dhawan Space Center in Andhra Pradesh six weeks ago, carried out of the atmosphere by a rocket. The international community of space enthusiasts held their breath as it traversed the distance. On Wednesday, the landing craft touched down, carrying a rover.
It landed near the south pole of the moon, in a region as-yet unexplored by any of the other twenty-four landings by the U.S., Russia, and China. In 2019, a previous landing attempt in the same region by India failed with a surface crash, but they have redeemed the effort.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated the space center over a conference call, having joined to watch the spacecraft landing.
“This is the heartbeat of 1.4 billion people,” Modi said. “This is the new India, the new beginning, the new thinking of the new efforts.
“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.
“We can all aspire for the moon and beyond.”
Celebrations across the country broke out, with citizens gathering in public houses and town halls to watch the landing.
The lunar rover will soon depart the lander, and will spend two weeks conducting an analysis of the lunar surface. The site was chosen because it is suspected to have surface ice. A Russian spacecraft was on its way to study the same region, but it crashed on Monday, spinning into an uncontrolled and failing orbit. That would have been the first Russian moon landing in 47 years.
India’s landing will be the spotlight of next month’s G-20 Summit, which is being hosted by India.