Exclusive club. India’s Chandrayaan-3 becomes the first space mission to land near the south pole of the Moon
India’s Chandrayaan-3 mission to put a lander and rover on Moon’s south pole was successful on Wednesday. The south pole of the Moon are believed to contain water ice that could help make a permanent lunar base for humans a reality.
The mission to the moon had blasted off from earth six weeks ago. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) had launched its LVM3 rocket from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, India’s main spaceport, in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh on 14 July 20213.
The launch came after India’s Chandrayaan-2 mission in 2019 had reached lunar orbit. Unfortunately the Chandrayaan-2 lander crashed when attempting to land on the surface of the Moon.
But now India has become only the fourth country to soft-land a vehicle on the Moon.
Sky News reported that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had joined a conference call at the space centre to watch the landing, waving a small Indian flag as the spacecraft landed.
“This is the heartbeat of 1.4 billion people,” he reportedly 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,” he said. “This is an historic moment, and for every Indian, we are all very proud.”
“India’s successful moon mission is not just India’s alone,” the Indian PM said. “We can all aspire for the moon and beyond.”
He said India will now look into a future human flight mission to the moon.
Landing on the rough terran of the South Pole is some achievement for India.
However Chandrayaan-3 will only remain functional for two weeks, during which it will run a number of experiments to determine the mineral composition of the moon’s surface.
Much of the work will be done by a rover, and scientists are keen to discover water ice, as it could be used for fuel, oxygen, and drinking water – with the mission laying the groundwork for a potential permanent lunar base before the end of the decade.