India launches historic Chandrayaan-3 mission to land spacecraft on the moon. With the successful launch of its Chandrayaan-3 mission on Friday, India is attempting to become only the fourth country to carry out a controlled landing on the moon.

India launches historic Chandrayaan-3 mission to land spacecraft on the moon
India launches historic Chandrayaan-3 mission to land spacecraft on the moon

Chandrayaan, which means “moon vehicle” in Sanskrit, took off from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh’s southernmost state, shortly after 2:30 p.m. local time (5 a.m. ET).

Crowds gathered at the space facility to see the historic launch, and over 1 million people watched on YouTube.

It is India’s second attempt at a soft landing, following the failure of the Chandrayaan-2 in 2019. Its first lunar mission, Chandrayaan-1, orbited the moon before deliberately crashing landing on its surface in 2008.

Chandrayaan-3, developed by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), consists of a lander, propulsion module, and rover. Its goal is to land safely on the lunar surface, collect data, and conduct a series of scientific experiments to learn more about the composition of the moon..

Only the United States, Russia, and China have accomplished the difficult accomplishment of soft-landing a spacecraft on the moon’s surface.

For years, Indian engineers have been working on the launch. They hope to land Chandrayaan-3 near the difficult terrain of the moon’s undiscovered South Pole.

Chandrayaan-1, India’s first lunar mission, detected water molecules on the moon’s surface. The Chandrayaan-2 successfully entered lunar orbit eleven years later, but its rover crashed-landed on the moon’s surface. It, too, was tasked with exploring the moon’s South Pole.

Despite the failure, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised the engineers behind the mission, promising to continue working on India’s space program and objectives.

Just before Friday’s launch, Modi said the day “will always be etched in golden letters as far as India’s space sector is concerned.”

“This remarkable mission will carry the hopes and dreams of our nation,” he said in a Twitter post.

India has since spent about $75 million on its Chandrayaan-3 mission.

Modi said the rocket will cover more than 300,000 kilometers (186,411 miles) and reach the moon in the “coming weeks”.

Decades in the making

India’s space program extends back more than six decades, to a time when the country was a freshly formed republic and a terribly impoverished country reeling from a brutal division.

When the country launched its first rocket into space in 1963, it was no match for the ambitions of the United States and the former Soviet Union, which were well ahead in the space race.

India is now the world’s most populated country and its fifth largest economy. It has a growing young population and is home to a growing innovation and technology centre.

And India’s space ambitions have been playing catch up under Modi.

India’s space program is a symbol of the country’s burgeoning significance on the world stage for the leader, who stormed to power in 2014 on a platform of nationalism and future glory.

India became the first Asian country to visit Mars in 2014, when it launched the Mangalyaan spacecraft into orbit around the Red Planet for $74 million – less than the $100 million spent by Hollywood on the space drama “Gravity.”

Three years later, India launched a record 104 satellites in one mission.

Modi stated in a rare broadcast address in 2019 that India had shot down one of its own satellites in an anti-satellite test, making India one of only four countries to do so.

In the same year, ISRO’s previous chairman Kailasavadivoo Sivan stated that India intended to build an autonomous space station by 2030. The International Space Station (a cooperative effort of numerous countries) and China’s Tiangong Space Station are currently the only space stations available for expedition crews.

Rapid development and innovation have made space technology one of India’s hottest investment industries, and foreign leaders appear to be taking notice.

When Modi met US President Joe Biden on a state visit to Washington last month, the White House stated that both leaders desired greater engagement in the space industry.

And India’s space goals extend beyond the moon and Mars. In addition, ISRO has proposed sending an orbiter to Venus.


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