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Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft lands on moon in ‘victory cry’ of new India


By Nivedita Bhattacharjee – Reuters and published by Yahoo!News

Bengaluru  – An Indian spacecraft landed on the moon today (Aug. 23) 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.

Previously, only the United States, China and the former Soviet Union have completed soft landings on the lunar surface.

“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.

“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,” said Carla Filotico, a partner and managing director at consultancy SpaceTec Partners.

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

Prayers were held at places of worship across the country, and schoolchildren waved the Indian tricolour as they waited for live screenings of 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 the capital New Delhi, Petroleum Minister Hardeep Singh Puri also offered prayers for Chandrayaan.

“Not just economically, but India is achieving scientific and technological progress as well,” Puri told reporters.


Top: Indian spacecraft Chandrayaan-3 landing on the moon. Image Credits: ISRO and published by Yahoo!Finance

First insert: People perform “havan” (traditional Hindu fire ritual) as part of a special prayer for the safe landing of Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft on the moon, in New Delhi, India, last night. Photo/Adnan Abidi and published by Yahoo!News

Second insert: Students hold posters in support of the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft, which is Sanskrit for “moon vehicle,” in Mumbai on August 22 Photo: Indranil Mukherjee/AFP/Getty Images and published by CNN

Front Page: Journalists film the live telecast of spacecraft Chandrayaan-3 landing on the moon at the Indian Space Research Organisation’s Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network facility in Bengaluru on Aug 23, 2023. Photo: AP/Aijaz Rahi and published by CNA

(Reporting by Nivedita Bhattacharjee in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Sunil Kataria; Writing by Shilpa Jamkhandikar and Shivam Patel, Editing by Gerry Doyle, Angus MacSwan and Nick Macfie)

Also read: Russia’s Luna-25 smashes into moon in failure

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