OAN’s Brooke Mallory
11:55 AM – Wednesday, August 23, 2023
India became the first country to reach the lunar south pole on Wednesday.
The unmanned Chandrayaan-3 robotic lunar lander, run by India’s space agency, landed on the moon’s south pole region shortly after 8:30 a.m. ET on Wednesday.
The touchdown by the Indian Space Research Organization comes only days after a Russian spacecraft’s route heading to the same spot failed during an orbital maneuver and crashed onto the lunar surface.
The arrival of the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft is a tremendous gain for the world’s most populous nation, which has been seeking more influence in space through both the government’s space agency and private investment.
Only the United States, China, and the erstwhile Soviet Union have made controlled, or “soft,” lunar landings in history.
The moon’s south pole has long prompted the interest of space agencies and scientists since the region’s shadowed craters are thought to hold higher concentrations of water ice than anywhere else on the lunar surface, making it critical for long-term human settlements on the moon.
NASA’s Artemis program, which is still working to send astronauts to the moon, plans to land its Artemis III mission in 2025 in the south polar area.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson praised the landing in a message on X, formerly known as Twitter.
The Chandrayaan-3 mission will undertake a number of surface scientific studies, including mineral composition and seismic activity tests. The lander is about the size of a SUV and also transports a smaller rover. Both solar-powered ships are planned to stay on the moon for around two weeks.
The Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft, launched on July 14th, was India’s second attempt to settle on the moon’s south pole. In 2019, a lunar orbiter was launched, but the Chandrayaan-2 lander and rover crashed onto the lunar surface.
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