India’s accomplishment in the realm of space exploration has reached a significant milestone with its Moon mission making history as the first to successfully land in the lunar south pole region. This achievement places India in an exclusive group of nations that have managed to achieve this feat on the Moon, a list previously comprised of only the US, the former Soviet Union, and China.
The momentous event sparked widespread celebrations throughout the country as the Vikram lander, a part of the Chandrayaan-3 mission, touched down precisely at 18:04 local time (12:34 GMT). Sreedhara Panicker Somanath, the head of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), said, the successful landing “is not our work alone, this is the work of a generation of Isro scientists”.
The successful landing “is not our work alone, this is the work of a generation of ISRO scientists”Sreedhara Panicker Somanath, the head of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)
Notably, this achievement follows closely after Russia’s Luna-25 spacecraft faced a mishap, losing control and crashing into the lunar surface, which means landing in the lunar south pole region, where the terrain is rugged, characterized by uneven surfaces, craters, and boulders, is pretty challenging.
India’s last attempt at soft-landing in this region, part of its second lunar mission in 2019, failed when the lander and rover were destroyed during the final stages of landing. Despite this setback, the orbiter from that mission survived.
Given the lessons learned from the past mission’s unfortunate outcome in the crucial final moments of landing, ISRO approached this time with caution. The nerve-wracking period leading up to the moon landing, referred to by many as the “20 or 17 minutes of terror,” showcased the intensity of the risk involved. During this critical phase, the process transitioned into an autonomous mode, wherein the Vikram lander executed its own engine firings at precise altitudes and timings.
The successful soft landing of the Chandrayaan-3 rover on the lunar surface brought immense joy to the families of two ISRO scientists from Assam. Nidhi Sharma and Chayan Dutta, hailing from Tinsukia and Lakhimpur towns respectively, were proud to witness their achievement.
NASA’s leader also extended his congratulations, acknowledging ISRO’s triumph in landing Chandrayaan-3 in the lunar south pole region. The collaborative nature of the mission was underscored as he praised India for becoming the fourth country to successfully achieve a soft landing on the Moon.
NASA chief Bill Nelson congratulated India. “Congratulations ISRO on your successful Chandrayaan-3 lunar South Pole landing! And congratulations to #India on being the 4th country to successfully soft-land a spacecraft on the Moon. We’re glad to be your partner on this mission!”