BENGALURU, Aug 21 (Reuters) – The Indian space agency on Monday released images its spacecraft took from the far side of the Moon as it headed for an attempted landing on the lunar south pole, just days after a failed Russian lander.
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft had been in a race with Russia to be the first to land on the lunar south pole, a region whose shadowed craters are believed to contain water ice which could support a future lunar colony.
As news of Russia’s failed Luna-25 mission broke on Sunday, ISRO said Chandrayaan-3 was set to land on August 23.
All spacecraft systems are working “perfectly” and no contingencies are expected on the day of landing, the space agency said Monday.
The mission – Chandrayaan means “lunar vehicle” in Hindi and Sanskrit – is India’s second attempt to land on the moon’s south pole. In 2019, ISRO’s Chandrayaan-2 mission successfully deployed an orbiter but its lander crashed.
Uneven terrain makes a landing at the South Pole difficult, but making a first landing would be historic. The area’s water ice could provide fuel, oxygen and drinking water for future missions.
Images released on Monday showed craters on the moon’s surface captured by ISRO’s Lander Hazard Detection and Avoidance Camera, designed to help find a safe landing spot for the spacecraft.
India’s lunar mission lifted off on July 14 and the lander module of Chandrayaan-3 separated from the propulsion module last week.
For India, a successful moon landing would mark its emergence as a space powerhouse as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government seeks to boost investment in private space launches and related satellite-based businesses.
“If Chandrayaan-3 is successful, it will boost the reputation of the Indian space agency worldwide. It will show that India is becoming a key player in space exploration,” said Manish Purohit, a former scientist at the ISRO.
It would also enhance India’s reputation for competitively priced space engineering. The Chandrayaan-3 was launched on a budget of around 6.15 billion rupees ($74 million), less than the production cost of 2013’s Hollywood space thriller “Gravity.”
A successful mission would make India the fourth country to successfully land on the Moon, after the former USSR, the United States and China.
“India will acquire new technology with a successful landing, which is a great thing,” K. Sivan, former head of the country’s space agency, said after the Chandrayaan-3 launch.
ISRO scientists said they learned from the failure of the previous lunar mission and made changes to Chandrayaan-3 that would make a successful landing more likely, including making it possible to land safely anywhere in a expanded landing zone in adverse conditions. It was also fitted with more fuel, solar panels and stronger legs.
Leaders of India’s nascent space industry are also expecting a boost. The number of space startups in India has more than doubled since 2020, when India opened up to private launches.
“The next 3 days will be nothing short of ‘awesome’! I’m looking forward to landing!”, Pawan Chandana, co-founder of Skyroot, who launched India’s first privately-built rocket the last year, posted on X, formerly called Twitter.
($1 = 83.0900 Indian rupees)
Reporting by Nivedita Bhattacharjee in Bengaluru. Editing by Gerry Doyle and Mark Potter
Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
#Moon #landing #anticipation #grows #India #Russia #crash