India's Chandrayaan-3 lands on the moon's South Pole

India WINS the space race to the Moon’s South Pole: Chandrayaan-3 makes history by landing on the icy lunar region – beating Russia, China and the USA

  • India has landed on the moon’s South pole – an unmapped region of the surface
  • The nation now joins Russia, China and the US in landing on the moon
  •  Chandrayaan-3 will determine if water ice is hiding in the South Pole region

India has become the fourth country to land on the moon after its Chandrayaan-3 touched the lunar surface Wednesday.

The craft, which means ‘moon vehicle’ in Hindi and Sanskrit, landed on the South Pole – beating the US, China and Russia to the unmapped region.

The South Pole is an uncharted territory that scientists believe could hold vital reserves of frozen water and precious elements. 

A lander with a rover tucked inside touched down at 8:34 am ET, sparking cheers and applause among the space scientists watching in the southern Indian city of Bengaluru.

Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO) successful mission marks its emergence as a space power as the government looks to spur investment in private space launches and related satellite-based businesses. 

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 to determine if there is water ice.

India has become the fourth country to land on the moon after its Chandrayaan-3 made a soft landing on the lunar surface, days after a similar Russian lander crashed

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi watched the epic mission and waved the nation’s flag once the landing was confirmed

‘India’s pursuit of space exploration reaches a remarkable milestone with the impending Chandrayaan-3 Mission, poised to achieve a soft landing on the lunar surface,’ IRSO said in a statement.

‘This achievement marks a significant step forward for Indian Science, Engineering, Technology, and Industry, symbolizing our nation´s progress in space exploration.’

India had previously attempted to land on the moon four years ago with its Chandrayaan 2 lander.

But the spacecraft crashed on the lunar surface, destroying both the lander and rover.

India’s successful second attempt came less than a week after Russia’s Luna-25 mission failed to touch down on the South Pole.

The Luna-25 spun into an uncontrolled orbit and crashed.

The Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft began decent at 8:30 am ET, slowing down its thrusters for a soft landing.

The craft had just two engines firing as it approached the surface. 

For India, the successful landing marks its emergence as a space power as the government looks to spur investment in private space launches and related satellite-based businesses

India celebrated the successful mission as they watched from the nation. Crowds erupted the moment the mission was announced to be successful

An animation of Chandrayaan-3 was shown in the control room, allowing the team to watch the mission in real-time.

Carla Filotico, a partner and managing director at consultancy SpaceTec Partners, said: ‘Landing on the South Pole (of the moon) would actually allow India to explore if there is water ice on the moon. 

‘And this is very important for cumulative data and science on the geology of the moon.’

With a push by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India has space launches and is looking to open the sector to foreign investment as it targets a five-fold increase in its share of the global launch market within the next decade.

The rocket carrying the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft lifted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, an island off the coast of southern Andhra Pradesh state, on July 14

A few hours before the scheduled landing, the mood was upbeat at the spacecraft command center on the outskirts of Bengaluru as ISRO officials and scientists hunched over massive screens monitoring the lander.

Anticipation before the landing was feverish, with banner headlines across Indian newspapers and news channels running countdowns to the landing.

Children gathered on the banks of the Ganga river, considered holy by Hindus, to pray for a safe landing, and mosques in several places offered prayers.

At a Sikh temple, known as a gurduwara, in New Delhi’s capital, Petroleum Minister Hardeep Singh Puri also offered prayers for Chandrayaan.

‘Not just economic, but India is achieving scientific and technological progress as well,’ Puri told reporters.

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. 

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