Chandrayaan-3 Landing: India Becomes Fourth Country to Land a Spacecraft on the Moon | CNN (2023)

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India has landed its Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft on the Moon, becoming only the fourth nation to do so.

The mission could cement India's status as a global superpower in space. Previously, only the United States, China and the former Soviet Union have completed soft landings on the lunar surface.

The Chandrayaan-3 landing site is also closer to the Moon's south pole than any spacecraft in history has ventured. The South Pole region is considered an area of ​​key scientific and strategic interest for spacefaring nations, as scientists believe the region is home tofrozen waterdeposits.

The water, frozendark craters, could be converted into rocket fuel or even drinking water for future manned missions.

Chandrayaan-3 Landing: India Becomes Fourth Country to Land a Spacecraft on the Moon | CNN (1)

Former NASA astronaut explains why the Moon's south pole is of special interest

00:45 - Source:CNN

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, currently in South Africa for the BRICS Summit, watched the disembarkation virtually and shared comments broadcast on the live stream.

“On this joyous occasion… I would like to address all the people of the world,” he said. “The success of India's lunar mission is not just India's. This is a year in which the world watches India's presidency of the G20. Our one Earth, one family, one future approach is resonating around the world.

“This human-centric approach that we present and represent has been universally welcomed. Our lunar mission is also based on the same human-centric approach,” added Modi. "So this success belongs to all of humanity and will help other countries' lunar missions in the future."

India's attempt to land its spacecraft near the lunar south pole comes just days after another nation's failed attempt to do the same. Russia's Luna 25 spacecraftthe holes are closedon August 19 after its engines failed, ending the country's first lunar landing attempt in 47 years.

A jornada de Chandrayaan-3

As Chandrayaan-3 approached the moon, its cameras captured photographs, including one taken on Aug. 20, which the Indian space agency shared on Tuesday. The image offers a close-up of the moon's dusty gray terrain.

India's lunar module consists of three parts: a lander, a rover and a propulsion module, which provided the spacecraft with all the thrust it needed to traverse the 384,400-kilometer (238,855-mile) gap between the Moon and Earth.

The lander, named Vikram, completed the precision maneuvers needed to make a smooth landing on the lunar surface after ejecting from the propulsion module. Hidden inside is Pragyan, a small six-wheeled rover that will launch from the lander down a ramp.

Vikram it used its onboard thrusters to carefully orient itself as it approached the lunar surface, and slowly cut its engines to land just after 6 pm. IST (8:30 am ET) when applause erupted from the mission control room.

The Indian Space Research Organization, or ISRO, laterconfirmedestablished two-way communication with the spacecraft and shared the first surface images captured during the probe's final descent.

The lander, which weighs about 1,700 kg (3,748 pounds), and the 26 kg (57.3 lb) rover are packed with scientific instruments, set to capture data to help researchers analyze the lunar surface and provide new insights into its composition.

Chandrayaan-3 Landing: India Becomes Fourth Country to Land a Spacecraft on the Moon | CNN (2)

Cheers broke out in the control room on Wednesday as India's lunar module landed on the lunar surface.

Angela Marusiak, an assistant research professor at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona, said she was particularly excited that the lunar module will include a seismometer that will try to detect earthquakes inside the moon.

Studying how the Moon's inner layers move could be key information for future endeavors on the lunar surface, Marusiak said.

"You want to make sure that any potential seismic activity is not going to endanger any astronauts," Marusiak said. "Or, if we built structures on the moon, they would be protected from any seismic activity."

The lander and rover are expected to work for about two weeks on the moon's surface. The propulsion module will remain in orbit, serving as a relay point to send data back to Earth.

A global moon race

working alongsideallieslike the United States and France, India is part of a second wave of emerging space powers. The country's space program has become one of the busiest in the world developing exploratory space technology.

Chandrayaan-3 has been a matter of national pride and widespread interest across India. Crowds gathered at thelaunching padat the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh, to watch the mission lift off in July. On Wednesday, more than 8 million people tuned in to watch the live stream of the landing.

Chandrayaan-3 Landing: India Becomes Fourth Country to Land a Spacecraft on the Moon | CNN (3)

School children in Guwahati, India, celebrate the successful landing of Chandrayaan-3 on the moon on Wednesday.

At least 500 people gathered at the Scientific and Industrial Research Council of India in New Delhi on Wednesday, where the live broadcast was broadcast in an auditorium and also outdoors in a temporary pavilion. After confirming the successful landing, Indian sweets were distributed to the public, fireworks were lit and spectators applauded for over a minute.

Chants of “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” — or “Victory for India” — could be heard, and children happily waved the Indian flag.

The Indian spacecraft Chandrayaan-3, Sanskrit for "lunar craft", travels after being launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, India, Friday, July 14, 2023. The Indian spacecraft made its way to the other side from the moon on Friday, on a follow-up mission to its failed effort nearly four years ago to land a rover gently on the lunar surface, the country's space agency said. A successful landing would make India the fourth country, after the United States, the Soviet Union and China, to achieve the feat. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi) Aijaz Rahi/AP Opinion: India's moon landing casts an uncomfortable light on Russia's failures

India's mission has taken on even greater significance since Russia's failed Luna 25 landing attempt. With the success of Chandrayaan-3, India became the second country to land a spacecraft on the Moon in the 21st century, after China, which has put three probes on the lunar surface since 2013 – including the first to land on the Moon.opposite side. (The last US lunar module, the manned Apollo 17 mission, landed in 1972.)

Chandrayaan-3 Landing: India Becomes Fourth Country to Land a Spacecraft on the Moon | CNN (5)

Shown here is an image of the lunar surface taken by the mission's Lander Horizontal Velocity Camera during the spacecraft's descent on Wednesday.

More than a dozen countries have plans for missions to the Moon in the coming years, including a mission launched by Japan's space agency - the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency - which is expected to take off later this month. The United States also has plans to sendthree commercial lunar probesto the Moon starting this year, while NASA continues to work on its Artemis III mission, which could put astronauts back on the Moon as early as 2025.

Landing on the Moon, however, remains a challenging task. India's last attempt to land a spacecraft on the moon, during the 2019 Chandrayaan-2 mission, failed. And two commercial spacecraft have landed on the lunar surface in recent times – one ofIsraelin 2019 and the other ofJapanin April.

"There's no question that landing on the moon is a real challenge," NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement on Sunday. “But the Moon offers great scientific rewards, which is why we've seen so many recent attempts to visit the surface again. We look forward to everything we learn in the future, including from India's Chandraayan-3 mission.”

On Wednesday, Nelson also shared a note of congratulations on thesocial media, saying: “Congratulations#Indiafor being the fourth country to softly land a spacecraft on the Moon. We are happy to be your partner in this mission!”

India is also a signatory to the US Artemis Accords, a document that outlines proposed rules for future lunar exploration. Russia and China have not signed the agreements.

CNN's Irene Nasser contributed to this story.


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