An Indian spacecraft Chandrayaan-3 landed on the moon on Wednesday in a mission seen as crucial to lunar exploration and India’s standing as a space power, just days after a similar Russian lander crashed.
“This is a victory cry of a new India,” said Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was seen waving the Indian flag as he watched the landing from South Africa, where he is attending the BRICS summit.
Scientists and officials clapped, cheered and hugged each other as the spacecraft landed and as the government now looks to spur investment in private space launches and related satellite-based businesses.
“India is on the moon,” said S. Somanath, chief of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) as the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft landed on the lunar south pole.
This was India’s second attempt to land a spacecraft on the moon and comes less than a week after Russia’s Luna-25 mission failed.
People across the country were glued to television screens and said prayers as the spacecraft approached the surface.
Chandrayaan means “moon vehicle” in Hindi and Sanskrit.
In 2019, ISRO’s Chandrayaan-2 mission successfully deployed an orbiter but its lander crashed.
The Chandrayaan-3 is expected to remain functional for two weeks, running a series of experiments including a spectrometer analysis of the mineral composition of the lunar surface.
Rough terrain makes a south pole landing difficult, and a first landing is historic. The region’s ice could supply fuel, oxygen and drinking water for future missions.
The Soviet Union, the United States, China and India are the only four countries that have successfully carried out soft landings on the Moon. But India’s spacecraft is the first to land in Moon’s south pole.
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