India Lands Chandrayaan-3 on Moon, Beating Rivals in New Space Race Image created in Canva by - CT Web Team

India Lands Chandrayaan-3 on Moon, Beating Rivals in New Space Race

Indian Space Research Organization Lands Chandrayaan-3 on Moon, Beating Western Rivals in New Space Race

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Last month, the Chandrayaan-3 mission stood ready on the launchpad in Sriharikota, India. Photo credit: Indian Space Research Organization.

India has become the first nation to successfully land a spacecraft in the lunar south pole region, achieving a historic milestone with its Chandrayaan-3 moon mission.

Last month, the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft took off from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, India. Photo credit: R. Satish Babu/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images.

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) landed its Vikram lander and Pragyan rover on September 6th, accomplishing a soft touchdown in an unexplored area that could contain water ice for future missions.


Space shuttle carrying Chandrayaan-3 Launch Video. Video Courtesy: ISRO

The landmark Chandrayaan-3 mission cements India's role as an ambitious space power vying with global rivals in the new moon race.


The moon, as seen by Chandrayaan-3 Lander Imager Camera 4 on August 20, 2023. Video Courtesy: ISRO

India Takes Lead in Heated Moon Race

India's accomplishment comes just days after Russia's Luna-25 lunar landing met with failure. Chandrayaan-3's triumph marks a win for India in the intensely competitive race between global powers to explore the moon.


The perspective of the Moon captured by Chandrayaan-3 during its Lunar Orbit Insertion phase. Video Courtesy: ISRO

The Chandrayaan-3 lander and rover made India only the 4th country to achieve a soft landing on the moon after Russia, the U.S. and China. But India is the first to reach the lunar south pole region which has great scientific significance.

Conducting acoustic testing on the assembled Chandrayaan-3 lander and propulsion module. Photo credit: Indian Space Research Organization.

This pole position underscores India's rising space credentials as the country aims for a leadership role commensurate with its growing economic and strategic heft globally.

Chandrayaan-3 Lands Near Lunar South Pole

The Chandrayaan-3 mission was launched in July and entered the moon's orbit on August 8th. The Vikram lander carrying the Pragyan rover separated on September 6th to attempt a highly complex descent and soft landing at the target site.

The moon's perspective captured by the Chandrayaan-3 lander on August 5th. Photo credit: Indian Space Research Organization, via Reuters.

After a series of precisely choreographed braking maneuvers, Vikram hovered 100 feet above the lunar surface before gently touching down in the south polar region, about 370 miles from the moon's south pole.

Tuned in to the real-time broadcast from Gujarat Science City in Ahmedabad, India. Photo credit: Amit Dave/Reuters.
Tuned in to the real-time broadcast from Gujarat Science City in Ahmedabad, India. Photo credit: Amit Dave/Reuters.

The landing site near the Manzinus crater marks a historic first as no previous mission has reached this southern part of the moon till now.

Scientific Significance of Moons' South Pole

The south pole is scientifically significant because permanently shadowed craters in this region are estimated to contain substantial deposits of frozen water.

Accessing this lunar water ice could provide a valuable resource for future human missions as well as producing rocket fuel and oxygen on the moon's surface.

Chandrayaan-3's lander and rover will conduct thermal, seismic and mineral studies to assess the south pole's resource potential over their 2-week mission life.

The solar-powered Vikram and Pragyan will utilize the extended sunlight available near the lunar south pole for generating energy. Their observations could pave the way for extracting water from this remote area.

Significance for India's Space Program

India first sent a lunar probe, Chandrayaan-1, to orbit the moon in 2008. But the nation's subsequent moon landing attempt with Chandrayaan-2 failed in 2019 when the Vikram lander crashed, leaving ISRO heartbroken.

Chandrayaan-3's success just two years later highlights India's resilience and the remarkable progress made by ISRO despite limited budgets compared to Chinese and American programs.

It boosts India's science credentials significantly, with even more ambitious interplanetary missions already being planned like Venus and asteroid landings.

Public Euphoria and National Pride in India

The Chandrayaan-3 achievement led to public celebrations in India as it fueled national pride in the country's space abilities.

The Indian public which already hugely supports ISRO's space initiatives watched Chandrayaan-3's landing live with joy and anticipation. Special viewing ceremonies were organized nationwide across schools, offices and public screenings.

There was a buzz around the mission on social media with even police and religious groups wishing the mission a success. Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the historic feat as an achievement of new India's aspirations and capabilities. Chandrayaan-3 provided a moment of euphoric unity amid difficult times of polarization in India.

Geopolitical Symbolism

Geopolitically, the mission's success comes as India aims for a leadership position in a multipolar world based on its growing economic clout and scientific prowess.

India is using its ambitious space program to shed its traditional low profile in favor of asserting its great power credentials more vigorously on the global stage.

Chandrayaan-3's triumph, coming right after Russia's failed moon landing, is a symbolic stamp of India's rising space power in relation to historical ally Moscow.

It also boosts India's credentials vis-a-vis rival China with both nations competing for influence and leadership across Asia and beyond.

Race with Global Powers Intensifying

India now joins an exclusive club of just three countries to have carried out a controlled soft landing on the moon's surface.

After the U.S. and Russia achieved this during the Cold War, China became the third member through its Chang'e-4 mission in 2019. India is now the fourth entry in this lunar soft landing club.

Chandrayaan-3's success provides both bragging rights and vital learning for India's space scientists as the global race for lunar exploration intensifies.

NASA aims to land American astronauts on the moon by 2025 under its Artemis mission. China and Russia also have forthcoming robotic moon missions planned soon.

So Chandrayaan-3 helps India solidify its position in this hotly contested race for lunar access and resources.

Boost for India's Global Ambitions

The Chandrayaan-3 moon landing success greatly boosts Prime Minister Modi's ambitions to position India as a science and technology leader internationally.

It supports his vision of India assuming a larger diplomatic role in global issues based on its scientific advancements.

The mission's triumph also plays into Modi's nationalistic narrative and provides a morale boost for his expected re-election bid in 2024.

By deftly promoting India's space abilities, Modi is able to derive significant political mileage domestically from achievements like Chandrayaan-3.

Exploring New Regions, Harvesting Lunar Water

India is now poised to explore a little understood region of the moon before any other nation. Chandrayaan-3 can obtain valuable data to assess whether viable quantities of frozen water exist in the south pole's shadowed craters.

If future missions can extract and utilize this lunar water, it would be a gamechanger for sustainable presence of humans on the moon and send spacecraft deeper into the solar system.

Chandrayaan-3 has laid the foundation for India to uncover the south pole's resource potential ahead of global rivals.

ISRO Executes High Risk Moon Landing

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has successfully executed one of the most complex maneuvers in space exploration by autonomously landing the Chandrayaan-3 craft intact.

The mission involved major risks like lunar dust storms, equipment failures and trajectory deviations. But ISRO's scientists and engineers leveraged their expertise to coordinate the lander's descent perfectly.

Vikram's 15 minute landing sequence went precisely as planned with ISRO teams in the Bengaluru control room erupting in joy after touch down.

The agency's remarkable feat comes just two years after the heartbreak of Chandrayaan-2's failed landing that left the ISRO chief in tears.

Resurgence After Chandrayaan-2 Disappointment

ISRO described Chandrayaan-3's successful landing as a huge technical leap achieved with a "shoestring budget".

The agency's trailblazing accomplishment highlights how India's space program has progressed despite very limited resources compared to Chinese and American counterparts.

This resurgence after Chandrayaan-2's failure reveals ISRO's commitment and work ethic to rebound from adversity. India's lunar ambitions have got their wings back.

Takeaway for Global Space Players

India's cutting-edge moon mission and low-cost model contains lessons for space agencies worldwide.

ISRO's cost-effective technologies and processes can be replicated by other developing countries interested in space.

Chandrayaan-3 proves India possesses advanced capabilities like autonomous navigation, precision landing and robotic rovers despite modest budgets.

Global players can gain from studying ISRO's innovative solutions and improvisations borne out of constraints.


The historic Chandrayaan-3 moon landing cements India's credentials as an ascendant space power.

ISRO overcame the disappointment of the Chandrayaan-2 setback to achieve an unprecedented south pole touchdown.

The mission burnishes India's reputation in advancing affordable space technology and exploration capabilities.

Chandrayaan-3 has beaten global rivals in the 21st century moon race and ushered India into an exclusive club.

The Chandrayaan-3 triumph symbolizes India's sacrifice and ingenuity in space as the country aims higher for the stars.

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