India’s space agency has successfully launched a rocket aimed at landing a spacecraft at the lunar south pole, a significant achievement that reinforces India’s status as a prominent space power. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) witnessed the LVM3 launch rocket take off from Sriharikota, the country’s primary spaceport located in the state of Andhra Pradesh. As the rocket ascended, leaving behind a trail of smoke and fire, TV footage captured the moment.
Dubbed the Chandrayaan-3 mission, meaning “moon vehicle” in Sanskrit, its objective is to deploy a lander and rover near the south pole of the moon by approximately August 23. Excitement filled mission control at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre as ISRO engineers and scientists monitored the spacecraft’s launch, resulting in applause and cheers as it soared into the sky. Onlookers outside the mission control center joined in the celebration, waving the national flag and displaying their pride as thousands of Indians witnessed the event.
Following the launch, ISRO Director Sreedhara Panicker Somanath expressed his congratulations, stating, “Congratulations India. Chandrayaan-3 has started its journey towards the moon.” This endeavor signifies a significant step forward in India’s space exploration efforts and positions the nation as a prominent player in the field of space exploration.
To date, only three other space agencies—the United States, the former Soviet Union, and China—have achieved the feat of landing a lander on the surface of the moon. However, none of them have successfully landed near the lunar south pole.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is currently in France, tweeted that the mission carries the “hopes and dreams of our nation.”
In a previous mission, Chandrayaan-2, conducted in 2020, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully deployed an orbiter, but the lander and rover met with an unfortunate crash near the intended touchdown site. The upcoming Chandrayaan-3 mission will aim to land in the same vicinity.
Upon a successful touchdown, the rover, named Pragyan (meaning “wisdom” in Sanskrit), will roll off the lander, known as Vikram (meaning “valour” in Sanskrit). Its primary objective will be to explore the nearby area, capturing images that will be transmitted back to Earth for further analysis.
The rover is designed to operate for one lunar day, equivalent to approximately 14 Earth days.