India lands a spacecraft near the South Pole of the Moon, a world first as it joins the elite club.

India has landed a spacecraft near the moon’s south pole, an uncharted territory that scientists believe could hold vital reserves of frozen water and precious elements, as the country asserts its growing strength in space and technology.

NEW DELHI – India on Wednesday made history by becoming the first country in the world to land its spacecraft near the moon’s south pole, an uncharted region that scientists believe could hold important reserves of frozen water, and the fourth country to reach the moon. landing

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who attended the BRICS summit, visited the historic landing from South Africa. “India is now on the moon. India has reached the South Pole of the Moon – no other country has ever reached it. We are witnessing history,” Modi said waving the Indian tricolor.

India’s successful landing comes days after Russia’s Luna-25, which was targeting the same lunar region, crashed in an uncontrolled orbit. This would have been Russia’s first successful moon landing after a gap of 47 years. Roscosmos, the state-controlled space agency, attributed the failure to a lack of expertise due to a long gap in lunar exploration following the last Soviet mission to the moon in 1976.

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All over India, the world’s most populous country, people gather around televisions in offices, shops, restaurants and homes with excitement and enthusiasm. Thousands lit oil lamps on riverbanks, temples and religious shrines, including in the holy city of Varanasi in northern India, to pray for the mission’s success on Tuesday.

India’s Chandrayaan-3 — Sanskrit for “moon craft” — lifted off from a launch pad in Sriharikota, South India, on July 14.

“India’s pursuit of space exploration reaches a significant milestone with the upcoming Chandrayaan-3 mission, which is poised to achieve a soft landing on the lunar surface. This achievement marks a significant step forward for Indian science, engineering, technology and industry, and signifies our country’s progress in space exploration,” said The space agency said in a statement on Wednesday.

It said that a successful Chandrayaan-3 landing would be monumental in sparking interest among the youth and sparking interest in research. “It creates a deep sense of pride and unity as we collectively celebrate the prowess of Indian science and technology. It will contribute to fostering an environment for scientific inquiry and innovation,” the organization said.

Many countries and private companies are interested in the South Pole because the permanently shadowed craters may hold frozen water that could help future astronauts.

Chandrayaan-3’s six-wheeled lander and rover module are equipped with payloads that will provide the scientific community with data on the properties of lunar soil and rocks, including chemical and elemental compositions.

India’s previous attempt to land a robotic spacecraft near the moon’s little-explored south pole ended in failure in 2019. It entered lunar orbit but lost contact with its lander. Water. According to the failure analysis report submitted to ISRO, the crash was caused by a software glitch.

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The $140 million project in 2019 aims to explore permanently shadowed lunar craters, which are thought to contain water deposits and were confirmed by India’s Chandrayaan-1 orbiter mission in 2008.

As nuclear-armed India emerged as the world’s fifth-largest economy last year, Modi’s nationalist government is keen to showcase India’s rising status as a technology and space power. A successful moonwalk has India in the image of Modi cementing his place among the global elite and will help boost his popularity ahead of crucial general elections next year.

After Russia’s failed attempt, expectations for a successful landing rose as India’s regional rival China reached new milestones in space. In May, China sent a three-person crew to its orbiting space station and hopes to put astronauts on the moon by the end of the decade. Relations between India and China deteriorated after deadly border clashes in 2020.

Countless countries and private companies are racing to successfully land a spacecraft on the lunar surface. In April, a Japanese company’s spacecraft crashed while trying to land on the moon. An Israeli nonprofit attempted a similar feat in 2019, but its spacecraft was destroyed on impact.

Japan plans to send a lunar lander to the moon later this week as part of an X-ray telescope mission, and two U.S. companies are competing to land on the moon by the end of the year, including one at the South Pole. In the coming years, NASA plans to land astronauts on the moon’s south pole using water frozen in craters.

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