The Indian space agency ISRO announced that the Chandrayaan-3 lunar probe had arrived safely on the Earth’s satellite. It touched down near the little-explored South Pole. “Soft landing on the moon. India is on the moon,” said the head of the Indian space agency ISRO, Sreedhara Panicker Somanath, shortly afterwards. It is a big leap, said the BRICS summit in
South Africa’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“The mission is going according to plan,” the Indian space agency ISRO had previously written on Platform X, formerly known as Twitter.
Important prestige achievement
So far, only the USA, the Soviet Union and China have managed a soft landing. With the successful mission, the most populous country in the world now also belongs to the exclusive club of moon landing nations.
A Chandrayaan-3 rocket was launched on July 14 from the southern Indian island of Sriharikota. The lunar probe took significantly longer to get to the Earth’s satellite than, for example, the manned Apollo missions of the USA in the 1960s and 1970s. On the other hand, the costs of the Indian mission, equivalent to around 66 million euros, are significantly lower than in other countries.
Chandrayaan means “lunar vehicle” in Sanskrit. With the unmanned mission, India wants to explore the south side of the moon, which has hardly been studied, for around two weeks. A first attempt to land in 2019 failed. During the mission, the landing module crashed onto the surface of the moon. The space agency later told Parliament in New Delhi that it had encountered braking problems while approaching the moon.
Russia failed on Sunday with its moon mission: The “Luna-25” space probe had hit the moon’s surface after an “unplanned situation” and had ceased to exist, the Russian space agency Roskosmos in Moscow had announced. Also “Luna-25” should land near the South Pole.
moon water in focus
With the “Chandrayaan-3” mission, India wants to find out more about frozen water on the moon, which has been detected on and under the lunar surface. Such ice could be useful, among other things, in future manned moon missions. “Such missions are future-oriented,” said Ajey Lele of the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defense Studies and Analyzes in the Indian capital New Delhi. “You have to start today if you want to reach your goal in two or three decades.”
India’s space program had started in the 1960s. In the first decades, the focus was primarily on launching satellites into space at low cost. India now has more ambitious goals. Recently, during a visit by India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi to US President Joe Biden, increased cooperation on space travel was announced.
kle/as (afp, dpa, rtre, ape)