The Chandrayaan-3 mission made India the first country to reach the South Pole region of the Moon in its entirety and added to the achievements of the country's space programme.
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Hari Kumar and Alex Travelli called from near Chandrayaan-3 mission control in Bangalore, India.
Two tourists from India -- a lander called Vikram and a rover called Pragian -- landed in the south polar region of the moon on Wednesday. The two robots are from a mission called Chandrayaan-3, making India the first country to reach this part of the lunar surface in its entirety and the fourth country to do so.
Just after 6 p.m., "we have achieved a soft landing on the moon," said S. Somanath, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization. local time. "India is on the moon."
The Indian public already takes great pride in the achievements of the country's space program, which orbits the moon and Mars and regularly launches satellites above Earth, while funding far less than other space nations.
But Chandrayaan-3's achievement may be sweeter because it comes at a particularly momentous moment in the South Asian giant's diplomatic advances as an ambitious rising power.
Indian officials advocate a multipolar world order, with New Delhi seen as an integral part of the global solution. In space exploration, as in so many other areas, the message from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government is clear: If India takes the lead, the world will fail even as the world's most populous nation struggles to meet the basic needs of its people. will become more equitable.
This confidence in the world stage is the central message of Mr Modi's campaign as he prepares to run for a third term early next year. He often confuses his image with that of India's rise as an economic, diplomatic and technological powerhouse.
At other recent moments in India's space history, Mr Modi was present at mission control, including during a successful orbit around Mars in 2014 and a failed moon landing in 2019, where he was seen comforting scientists and hugging the head of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) , the latter cried. .
But the landing of Chandrayaan 3 coincided with his trip to South Africa for a meetinggroup of countries known as the brics. In the final minutes of touchdown, Modi put a smile on his face in the control room in Bengaluru, as an animation of the lander played on his split screen.
"The victory of Chandrayaan-3 reflects the aspirations and capabilities of 1.4 billion Indians," said the Indian President. After the landing, Modi declared the event a "moment for a new development in India".
In a country with a deep scientific tradition, the excitement and anticipation surrounding the landing provided a rare moment of unity that would otherwisetime of sectarian tensionThe divisive politics of the ruling Hindu nationalist party led by Modi has exacerbated the situation.
People pray for mission success in Hindu temples, Sikh gurdwaras and Muslim mosques. The school held a special ceremony and organized a live viewing event of the moon landing,Official YouTube VideoThe event attracted tens of millions of views. A police band in the city of Mumbai, the business and entertainment hub of India"Special Musical Tribute"The scientists performed a popular patriotic song.
"Have full faith," the song says in Hindi. "We'll make it."
India's lunar mission launched in July, taking a slow and fuel-efficient route to the moon. But Chandrayaan-3 outperformed the Russian satellite Luna-25, which was launched 12 days earlier. Luna-25 was supposed to land on the moon on Monday at the same site as the Indian spacecraft, butknocked down saturdayAfter engine failure.
India's success in surpassing Russia, just as the Soviet Union sent its first satellite (a man and a woman) into space, speaks to the different fates of the two countries' space programs.
Much of India's foreign policy in recent decades has been determined by a delicate balancing act between Washington and Moscow, but the country is increasingly dealing with an increasingly aggressive China on its borders. The two armies have faced off in the Himalayas for three years, and vulnerability to Chinese threats has been a major driver of India's calculations.
Shared dissatisfaction with Beijing will only growCooperation between the US and India, including in space, whereChina is buildingyoudirect competitionwith the United States.
With the success of Chandrayaan 3, Mr. Bharat Kanad, emeritus professor of national security studies at the Center for Policy Studies in New Delhi, said Modi could benefit from India's scientific prowess and "advocate India's national interests more confidently on the world stage".
Inside the control room in Bangalore, ISRO engineers, scientists and technicians were ecstatic.
After landing, members of the ISRO leadership who flew Chandrayaan 3 made it clear that the failure of their last moon landing attempt in 2019 was the main driving force behind their work.
Kalpana Kalahasti, the mission's deputy project director, said: "From the day we started rebuilding the spacecraft after Chandrayaan-2's experience, Chandrayaan-3 has been pumping, breathing, and breathing for our team. Exhale."
Chandrayaan-3 has been orbiting the moon since early August. On Sunday, an engine burnout propelled the lander into an elliptical orbit, 15 miles above the surface. As the spacecraft approached the lower point of its orbit at more than 3,700 miles per hour on Wednesday, it began a series of pre-programmed maneuvers.
The spacecraft's four engines restarted at the start of what ISRO called the "hard braking" portion of the descent, during which its descent accelerated. After 11.5 minutes, the lander was just over 4.5 miles above the ground and began to rotate from a horizontal to a vertical position as it continued to descend.
The spacecraft circled for a few seconds at an altitude of about 150 yards above the surface, then continued downward until it touched down gently on the surface about 370 miles above the South Pole. The landing process lasted about 19 minutes.
Chandrayaan-3 is a two-week science mission in which the sun will illuminate the landing site and provide power to the solar-powered lander and rovers. The lander and rover will use an array of instruments to make thermal, seismic and mineralogical measurements.
India and ISRO have many other plans.
Although Indian cosmonauts were launched into orbit in a Soviet spacecraft in 1984, the country has never sent humans into space alone. India is preparing for its first astronaut mission 'Gaganyaan'. But the project, which aims to send three Indian astronauts into space using the country's spacecraft, has faced delays, with ISRO yet to announce a date.
Earth is also working to launch a solar observatory called Aditya-L1 in early September, followed by an Earth observation satellite in partnership with NASA. India also plans to continue its recently completed Mars Orbiter mission.
Mr Somanath described the current moment as a turning point, with the country opening its space venture to private investors after half a century of state monopoly and thriving "in a low-budget way".
"These are very lucrative assignments," Mr Somanath said after landing. "Nobody in the world can do it like we do."
When asked by reporters about the cost of Chandrayaan-3, Somanath laughed: "I won't reveal such a secret, we don't want others to be so profitable!"
ISRO to continue exploring solar system, yield resultsIndian private sectorIt may soon attract just as much attention. The young generation of space engineers,Inspired by SpaceX, they started their own business. Although ISRO's budget for the last fiscal year was less than $1.5 billion, India's private space economy is already worth at least $6 billion and is expected to triple by 2025.
And the pace of change is accelerating. The Modi government wants India to harness the entrepreneurial energy of the private sector to launch more satellites and invest in space, and faster.
Somanath said Vikram and Pragian would start work on the moon and the rover could land on the lunar surface sometime in the next few hours or on Thursday. The landing site is on a plateau south of Mancinus crater and west of Boguslavski crater, at roughly the same latitude as the edge of Antarctica on Earth.
So far, spacecraft have successfully landed on the Moon close to the equator. Polar regions are interesting because of the frozen water on the bottom of permanently shadowed craters. If water can be found in sufficient quantities and extracted, astronauts could use it for future space exploration.
The lunar south pole is the intended destination for astronauts who visit the moon as part of NASA's Artemis program, as well as for upcoming Chinese and Russian missions. In the near future, as many as three robotic missions could head to the moon later this year, including one from Japan and two from private U.S. companies working with NASA.
But after the Bengaluru launch, Somanath hinted that India was eyeing the world beyond the moon.
"This is very difficult for any country to achieve. But we succeeded in just two attempts," he said. "It gives the confidence to go to Mars, maybe Venus and other planets, maybe asteroids."
And KumaraI'm a reporter based in New Delhi. He joined The Times in 1997. About Hari Kumar
Alex Traveleyis a New Delhi-based correspondent for The Times covering business and economic issues in India and the rest of South Asia. He previously served as editor and reporter for The Economist. About Alex Traveley
Mujibur MacharHe is the South Asia bureau chief of The Times. Born in Kabul, he wrote for The Atlantic, Harper's Magazine and The Times before joining The Times. About Mujib Mashal
Kenneth ZhangHas been with The Times since 2000, writing about physics, geology, chemistry and planets. Before becoming a science writer, he was a graduate student whose research involved chaos control. More about Kenneth Zhang
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On the moon (and above): India rejoices。order reprints|Today's newspaper|subscription
Aug. 23, 2023 Updated Wed., Aug. 23, 2023 at 8:56 p.m. BENGALURU, India – Two visitors from India – a lander named Vikram and a rover named Pragyan – landed in the southern polar region of the moon on Wednesday.What did India land on the Moon? ›
India has landed its Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft on the moon, becoming only the fourth nation ever to accomplish such a feat. The mission could cement India's status as a global superpower in space.Will Chandrayaan-3 return to Earth? ›
The Chandrayaan-3 lunar mission is not designed for a return journey to Earth.Is Chandrayaan 1 success or failure? ›
Chandrayaan 1 landed successfully on Jawahar Point on the South Pole of the Moon and sent data back to earth (which included the fabulous possibility of the presence of Lunar Water) for ten months and six days instead of the planned two years.What next for Chandrayaan-3? ›
Day after the successful landing of the Chandrayaan-3 mission on the Moon, the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) is all set to lift off its next big mission -- the Aditya-L1. Isro chief S Somanath announced that the Aditya-L1 mission, dedicated to studying the Sun, is set to embark on its journey next month.