In a groundbreaking achievement, India has secured its place in history as the first nation to successfully land a spacecraft near the Moon’s South Pole. This remarkable feat not only marks a significant milestone for the world’s most populous nation, but also highlights the prowess of its ambitious, cost-effective space program.
The unmanned Chandrayaan-3 lunar lander named Vikram gracefully touched down at precisely 6:04 pm, sending mission control technicians into ecstatic cheers and embraces. This triumph, however, was not without its challenges. It came on the heels of a Russian probe’s unfortunate crash in the same lunar region and followed a four-year interval since India’s previous lunar landing attempt ended in disappointment at the eleventh hour.
Global Space Agencies Extend Congratulations
NASA’s Administrator, Bill Nelson, took to Twitter to extend his congratulations, saying, “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!”
The UK Space Agency also joined in the chorus of accolades, stating, “Success! Congratulations to India for becoming the fourth nation to achieve a soft landing on the Moon! We’ll be communicating with the lander from its position near the lunar South Pole shortly!”
Josef Aschbacher, Director-General of the European Space Agency (ESA), expressed his amazement on Twitter: “Incredible! Congratulations to @isro, #Chandrayaan_3, and to all the people of India!! What a way to demonstrate new technologies AND achieve India’s first soft landing on another celestial body. Well done, I am thoroughly impressed. And kudos once again to @esaoperations for your precious support through this process. We, too, are learning great lessons and providing crucial expertise. A strong international partner is a powerful partner.”
The Chandrayaan-3 mission has captivated the imagination of the global public ever since its launch nearly six weeks ago, drawing the attention of thousands of cheering spectators. It’s worth noting that Chandrayaan-3’s journey to the moon, though longer than the Apollo missions of the 1960s and 1970s, is a testament to India’s dedication and commitment to space exploration.
On its part, the ISRO leadership, who managed Chandrayaan-3 made it clear that the failure of their last moon landing attempt, in 2019, was a major driving force. “From the day we started rebuilding our spacecraft after Chandaryaan-2 experience, it has been breathe in breathe out Chandrayaan-3 for our team,” said Kalpana Kalahasti, the ISRO mission’s Associate Project Director.