India has become the fourth nation to land on the moon after its Chandrayaan-3 touched the lunar surface Wednesday.
The craft, which means ‘moon vehicle’ in Hindi and Sanskrit, landed on the South Pole – beating the US, China and Russia to the unmapped region.
The South Pole is an uncharted territory that scientists believe could hold vital reserves of frozen water and precious elements.
A lander with a rover tucked inside touched down at 8:34am ET, sparking cheers and applause among the space scientists watching in the southern Indian city of Bengaluru.
Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO) successful mission marks its emergence as a space power as the government looks to spur investment in private space launches and related satellite-based businesses.
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 to determine if there is water ice.
‘This achievement marks a significant step forward for Indian Science, Engineering, Technology, and Industry, symbolizing our nation´s progress in space exploration.’
India had attempted to land on the moon four years ago with its Chandrayaan 2 lander.
But the spacecraft crashed on the lunar surface, destroying both the lander and rover due to a software glitch.
India’s successful second attempt came less than a week after Russia’s Luna-25 mission failed to touch down on the South Pole.
The Luna-25 spun into an uncontrolled orbit and crashed.
The Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft began decent at 8:30 am ET, slowing down its thrusters for a soft landing.
The craft had just two engines firing as it approached the surface.
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