Just days after a failed Russian landing attempt at the lunar south pole, India’s space agency released images of the moon’s far side.
ISRO’s Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft competed with Russia to be the first to land on the lunar south pole, where shadowed craters are believed to contain water ice that could support a future moon settlement.
As news of the failure of Russia’s Luna-25 mission broke on Sunday, ISRO announced that Chandrayaan-3 would land on the moon on August 23.
The Chandrayaan mission, which means “moon vehicle” in Hindi and Sanskrit, is India’s second attempt to land on the moon’s south pole. The orbiter of ISRO’s Chandrayaan-2 mission was successfully deployed in 2019, but the lander crashed.
A south pole landing is difficult due to the rough terrain, but a first landing would be historic. The region’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 the ISRO craft’s Lander Hazard Detection and Avoidance Camera, which is intended to aid in the spacecraft’s safe landing.
India’s moon mission blasted off on July 14, and the lander module of Chandrayaan-3 separated from the propulsion module last week.
India’s Bold Step with Chandrayaan-3: A Boost for Space Innovation
A successful moon landing would mark India’s emergence as a space power, as the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeks to encourage investment in private space launches and satellite-related businesses.
“If Chandrayaan-3 succeeds, it will boost India’s space agency’s reputation worldwide. It will show that India is becoming a key player in space exploration,” said Manish Purohit, a former ISRO scientist.
Additionally, it would enhance India’s reputation for cost-effective space engineering. The Chandrayaan-3 was launched with a budget of approximately 6.15 billion rupees ($74 million), which is less than what it cost to produce the 2013 space thriller “Gravity” in Hollywood.
A successful mission would make India the fourth nation to land on the moon, after the former Soviet Union, the United States, and China.
“India is going to acquire a new technology with a successful landing, which is a big thing,” K. Sivan, former chief of the country’s space agency, said after the Chandrayaan-3 launched.
ISRO scientists claim they learned from the failure of the previous moon mission and made modifications to Chandrayaan-3 to increase the likelihood of a successful landing, including the ability to touch down safely anywhere within an expanded landing zone in adverse conditions. It has also been outfitted with additional fuel, solar panels, and stronger legs.
India’s nascent space industry executives also anticipate a boost. Since India began allowing private launches in 2020, the number of Indian space startups has more than doubled.
“The next 3 days will be nothing less than ‘terrific’! Eagerly looking forward to the landing!” Pawan Chandana, co-founder of Skyroot, which launched India’s first privately built rocket last year, posted on X, formerly called Twitter.