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India Creates History by Becoming First Country to Touch Down Near the Moon’s South Pole

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India’s Chandrayaan-3 mission has achieved a historic feat as a lander named Vikram and a rover named Pragyan successfully soft landed on the moon’s southern polar region at 6:04 local time on August 23, making India the first country to achieve this milestone and the fourth country, overall, to land on the moon after the United States, the Soviet Union, and China. The achievement was witnessed by around 7 million viewers on the Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO) YouTube channel and through TV broadcasts in India.

The Chandrayaan-3 mission, which launched in July, took a meticulous route to the moon, prioritizing fuel efficiency. The successful landing marks a significant moment for India’s space program, which has previously orbited the moon and Mars with relatively fewer resources compared to other nations. This triumph holds special significance as it comes at a pivotal point in India’s ascent on the global stage.

India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, hailed the achievement during an official visit to South Africa, stating that it symbolizes a moment of progress for the country. The mission’s director, S. Somanath, expressed the pride of India’s scientific community in accomplishing a soft landing on the moon, emphasizing that “India is on the moon.”

Chandrayaan-3’s landing was planned for August 23 to coincide with the sunrise at the landing site, with the mission’s operations scheduled to continue for two weeks. The solar-powered lander and rover will utilize various instruments to gather temperature, seismic activity, and mineral composition data.

India’s space ambitions are set to continue in the coming years. The country is preparing for a collaborative lunar exploration mission with Japan, named LUPEX, focused on exploring the moon’s South Pole. Furthermore, India is on the path to launching its first astronaut mission called Gaganyaan, though the date remains unspecified. The country is also gearing up for the Aditya L-1 mission to study the sun and a collaborative NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) mission to monitor changes in Earth’s land and ice surfaces.

This achievement showcases India’s growing capabilities in space exploration, demonstrating the country’s dedication to scientific advancement despite budget constraints. With successful missions to Mars the moon, and plans for future explorations, India’s space program is marking itself as a formidable player in the global space arena.

Photo by SevenStorm JUHASZIMRUS


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