India made history on Wednesday by becoming the first nation to successfully land a spacecraft near the moon’s southern pole. This groundbreaking mission, an expedition into uncharted lunar territory, holds tremendous potential as scientists believe it could reveal valuable reserves of frozen water. It marks a remarkable technological achievement for India, the world’s most populous country.
At precisely 6:04 p.m. local time, a lander carrying a rover touched down gently on the moon’s surface, sparking jubilation across India. In Bengaluru, the nation’s southern city, space scientists who closely monitored the landing erupted in joy and applause. This achievement comes after a previous attempt in 2019 ended in failure, placing India in the company of the United States, the Soviet Union, and China as one of the few nations to reach this significant milestone.
This successful lunar mission not only underscores India’s growing prominence as a technology and space powerhouse but also aligns with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of the country as an ascending nation asserting its position among the global elite.
Modi, who was in South Africa participating in the BRICS nations summit, remarked, “India is now on the moon. India has reached the south pole of the moon—no other country has achieved that. We are witnessing history.” He waved the Indian tricolored flag with pride as he watched this historic moment.
The lunar rover, housed within the lander, is poised to embark on its mission in the coming hours or days. Its tasks include conducting experiments, such as analyzing the mineral composition of the lunar surface. S. Somnath, the chairman of the state-run Indian Space Research Organization, revealed that the mission is anticipated to endure for approximately two weeks. Following this, India has ambitious plans to launch a manned lunar mission.
This remarkable achievement arrives at a crucial time for India. As a nuclear-armed nation, it recently ascended to become the world’s fifth-largest economy. The success of this lunar mission is likely to bolster Prime Minister Modi’s popularity in the lead-up to a significant general election scheduled for next year.
Notably, India’s triumphant landing follows Russia’s recent misfortune, where their Luna-25 mission, targeting the same lunar region, spiraled into an uncontrollable orbit and ultimately crashed. This setback was particularly disappointing as it could have marked Russia’s first successful lunar landing in 47 years. Russia’s head of the state-controlled space corporation Roscosmos attributed this failure to the lack of expertise resulting from the extended hiatus in lunar research since the last Soviet mission to the moon in 1976.