India's ISRO Launches Rocket, Aims for Lunar Landing at South Pole
India's space agency achieved a remarkable milestone on Friday as it successfully launched a rocket, propelling a spacecraft into orbit with the aim of landing on the lunar south pole next month. This unprecedented achievement solidifies India's position as a prominent player in space exploration.
The launch took place at the Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) primary spaceport in Andhra Pradesh, where the LVM3 launch rocket ignited, leaving behind a trail of smoke and fire. After approximately 16 minutes, ISRO's mission control confirmed that the rocket had effectively positioned the Chandrayaan-3 lander into an Earth orbit, setting it on course for a lunar landing in the coming month.
If the mission accomplishes its objective, India will join an exclusive group of three nations, including the United States, the former Soviet Union, and China, who have successfully executed controlled lunar landings. Furthermore, the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft will be the first to touch down on the lunar south pole, a region of great interest to space agencies and private companies due to the presence of water ice that could potentially support future space endeavors.
The launch occurred at 2:35 p.m. local time (0905 GMT) from India's primary spaceport, attracting an audience of over 1.4 million people who watched the event unfold on ISRO's YouTube channel. Many viewers expressed their congratulations and shared the patriotic slogan "Jai Hind" (Victory to India).
The highly anticipated Chandrayaan-3 moon mission is scheduled for launch on July 14, 2023. Notably, in 2020, ISRO's Chandrayaan-2 mission successfully deployed an orbiter, although its lander and rover met an unfortunate fate in a crash near the upcoming touchdown site for Chandrayaan-3.
Chandrayaan, meaning "moon vehicle" in Sanskrit, features a 2-meter-tall lander designed to deploy a rover near the moon's south pole. The rover is expected to remain operational for two weeks, conducting a series of experiments.
ISRO has set the lunar landing date for August 23. This launch marks India's first major mission since Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government introduced policies aimed at fostering investment in space launches and satellite-based businesses. Prime Minister Modi expressed his optimism for the moon mission on Twitter, stating that it "will carry the hopes and dreams of our nation."
During a celebratory event at the spaceport, Deputy Minister of State for Science and Technology Jitendra Singh affirmed India's commitment to assume a leading global role in the emerging world scenario as the nation embarks on the next 25 years.
Since 2020, when India embraced private launches, the number of space startups has more than doubled. Last year, Skyroot Aerospace, backed by investors including Singapore's sovereign wealth fund GIC, achieved a significant milestone by launching India's first privately constructed rocket.