India Set to Make Historic Landing on Moon’s South Pole

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India is poised to become the first nation to successfully land a spacecraft on the Moon’s south pole, marking a significant milestone for the country’s space exploration efforts. This achievement comes just days after a Russian probe crash-landed in the same region, adding to the importance of the moment.
Scheduled to touch down shortly after 6:00 pm India time (1230 GMT), Chandrayaan-3, which translates to “Mooncraft” in Sanskrit, will explore the little-explored lunar south pole. India had a previous unsuccessful attempt in 2019, but the latest mission shows promise based on the photos transmitted back by the lander.
Former Indian space chief K. Sivan expressed confidence in the mission’s success, citing improvements made since the 2019 failure. He highlighted that Chandrayaan-3 has undergone enhancements to ensure a smoother landing.

The Chandrayaan-3 mission has captivated the attention of the public since its launch six weeks ago. Local newspapers, such as The Times of India and The Hindustan Times, featured headlines dominating the front pages, marking it as a momentous occasion for India.
Compared to the Apollo missions in the 1960s and 1970s that reached the Moon in a matter of days, Chandrayaan-3 took longer due to India’s use of less powerful rockets. To compensate for this, the probe had to orbit the Earth several times before embarking on its month-long lunar trajectory.
The lander, Vikram, detached from its propulsion module last week and has been sending back images of the Moon’s surface since entering lunar orbit on August 5. If successful, a solar-powered rover will explore the lunar surface and transmit valuable data back to Earth during its two-week lifespan.

Despite having a comparatively low-budget aerospace program, India’s space engineering has gained momentum and recognition since successfully sending a probe to orbit the Moon in 2008. The Chandrayaan-3 mission carries a price tag of $74.6 million, significantly lower than the costs incurred by other countries. This achievement showcases India’s ability to develop cost-effective space technology by leveraging existing resources and talented engineers who earn lower wages compared to their foreign counterparts.

Former ISRO chief Sivan stressed the significance of India’s exploration of the lunar south pole, emphasizing its contribution to scientific knowledge. Only Russia, the United States, and China have achieved controlled landings on the lunar surface in the past. Russia made its own lunar probe launch earlier this month, but it crash-landed on Saturday during descent. India’s successful landing would make it the first nation to make a controlled landing around the lunar south pole.
Russia’s space industry has faced challenges due to political sanctions, corruption, lack of innovation, and partnerships. India’s accomplishments in space exploration highlight its growing global influence and its commitment to pushing the boundaries of scientific discovery.

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