New Delhi, Aug 23 (EFE).- Indian space mission Chandrayaan-3 on Wednesday successfully landed on the Moon’s south pole, after a complicated descent to the lunar surface of the southernmost corner of the Earth’s satellite, which had remain unexplored so far.
“We have achieved a soft-landing on the Moon. India is on the Moon,” the CEO of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), Sreedhara Panicker Somanath ,announced after a complicated maneuver that turned India into just the fourth country to land on the lunar surface, after the United States, Russia and China.
Chandrayaan-3 took 40 days to reach the Moon since taking off on Jul. 14 with India’s largest and heaviest launch rocket and later orbiting the satellite.
“India, I reached my destination and you too!” ISRO tweeted on behalf of Chandrayaan-3 on social network X – previously known as Twitter – soon after the mission’s success was confirmed.
The mission’s landing module is carrying a rover inside which will begin its exploring trips on the Moon’s surface over the next few hours to capture information and samples, Somanath said.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, currently in South Africa to attend the BRICS leaders’ summit, took a break from his program to follow the landing online.
“Such historic incidents turn into the eternal consciousness of the nation’s life. This moment is unforgettable, unprecedented, it is the moment for a clarion call of a developed India. It is a victor’s cry for the new India,” a visibly emotional Modi proclaimed.
The soft-landing is a special achievement for India as its previous mission Chandrayaan-2, had crashed in 2019 while trying to fulfill the same goal, because the deacceleration maneuver before touching the surface had malfunctioned.
“We took a pledge on the Earth and fulfilled it on the Moon,” the prime minister added.
Earlier, ISRO had explained that the descent over the last 25 kilometers towards the lunar surface was to be the most critical phase of the landing.
In this phase, the landing speed was around 1.68 kms per second with Chandrayaan-3 descending in a horizontal position, and therefore the maneuver consisted of moving to a vertical position during the descent, which depended on precise mathematical calculations.
An error in the calculation had been the cause of Chandrayaan-2’s failure in 2019.
The mission command center, called MOX, was full of scientists, special invitees and journalists during the descent and broke into loud applause, cheers and hugs as the distance to the Moon’s surface dropped below two kms and the mission passed through each phase successfully. EFE