India Becomes First Country To Land On The Moon’s South Pole

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Kate Hirzel Contributor
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India achieved an unprecedented lunar landing Wednesday when the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft touched down near the Moon’s southern pole.

“Chandrayaan-3 has successfully soft-landed on the moon!” the Indian Space Research Organization (ISPO) wrote on Twitter. “Congratulations, India!”

India is the fourth country in the world to achieve a lunar landing, after the United States, the former Soviet Union and China, reported. Chandrayaan-3 landed at 8:33 a.m. Eastern Time, or 6:03 p.m. India Standard Time. 

Chandrayaan-3 will deploy a solar-powered rover named Pragyan from the lander, Vikram. The robotic pair will explore the lunar surface for scientific data collection during one lunar day, equivalent to about 14 days on Earth, the outlet reported. (RELATED: NASA Loses Contact With Voyager 2 After Wrong Command Input)

India’s previous lunar landing attempt with Chandrayaan-2 in September 2019 ended in failure due to a software glitch. Chandrayaan-3, launched July 14, 2023, was India’s second endeavor to land near the moon’s south pole, an important area due to its potential water ice reserves, according to

″[The south pole is] really a very interesting, historical, scientific and geologic area that a lot of countries are trying to get at that can serve as a base for future exploration,” U.S. Air Force School of Advanced Air and Space Studies professor Wendy Cobb said, CNBC reported.

The success is credited to revised landing algorithms, a larger landing zone, sturdier landing legs and dynamic engines for Vikram, among other enhancements. Chandrayaan-2’s orbiter also aided with refined landing site knowledge, the outlet reported. 

“This success belongs to all of humanity and it will help moon missions by other countries in the future,” India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said after the landing, according to “I’m confident that all countries in the world, including those from the global south, are capable of capturing success. We can all aspire to the moon and beyond.”

India’s space success comes days after Russia’s lander crashed on the moon. The Russian effort was the country’s first lunar mission in nearly 50 years. Russia’s Luna-25 spacecraft reportedly lost control after “switch[ing] to an off-design orbit” as it attempted to enter a pre-landing orbit sequence.