India has become the first country in the world to successfully land a probe on the lunar south pole.
The Chandrayaan 3 mission was declared a success on Wednesday, August 23, after the Vikram lander touched down at the lunar south pole at 1:34 p.m.
The mission’s Vikram lander flew at about 1.68 kilometers per second, successfully starting its engines and aligning the rover perpendicular to the moon’s surface.
So far, no other country has made a successful soft landing on the moon’s south pole. The lunar south pole contains traces of water ice in shadowed craters.
This is her third Chandrayaan mission to India. Chandrayaan 1 in 2008 and Chandrayaan 2 in early 2019 both failed to land.
The success of the space flight sparked cheers and applause across India, with space explorers watching the landing in the southern Indian city of Bengaluru. Although the 2019 attempt failed, India now joins the US, Soviet Union and China in reaching this milestone.
Within a few hours to a day, the lunar rover will slide off the flaps from the lander and conduct experiments, such as analyzing the mineral composition of the lunar surface. Somnath, president of the National Space Research Organization of India, said:
Somnath said the mission is expected to last two weeks, making India’s next attempt at manned lunar exploration.
With nuclear-armed India growing into the world’s fifth-largest economy last year, a successful mission to the moon is likely to boost Modi’s popularity ahead of next year’s crucial elections.
India’s successful landing came just days after Russia’s Luna 25, which was also targeting the same lunar region, went into an uncontrolled orbit and crashed. It would have been Russia’s first successful moon landing in 47 years.