“India conquers the moon” screamed the tickers on Indian news channels as India became the first country in the world to make a soft landing on the South Pole of the Moon. The Indian mission, called the “Chandrayaan 3”, which translates to “A flight to the moon”, was declared successful at around 1.30pm by the Indian scientists at the Indian Space Research Agency (ISRO).

Video grab of celebrations
Image: YouTube

The Chandrayaan 3 mission, which took off from Southern India on 14 July, was aimed at the lunar south pole, a region with water ice, or frozen water, that could be a source of oxygen, fuel and water for future moon missions or a more permanent moon colony.

The Lunar South remains an unexplored space for the Earth’s satellite. Just three countries, United States, the Soviet Union, and China has managed to successfully land on the moon, however none of them have made a soft landing on the lunar south.

Chandrayaan graphical representation
Image: ISRO

Now that India’s lander, called the Vikram Lander, named after ISRO’s founder Vikram Sarabhai, has successfully touched down on the moon. It will gradually settle down, before opening its panels and ramps, to further deploy the moon rover, called Pragyan, to explore the area. The name Pragyan is derived from the Sanskrit word for ‘Wisdom’.

Costing just around £59 million, the Indian mission’s cost was reportedly less than Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, a movie which cost around £130 million. This was India’s second attempt at landing on the lunar south.

In 2019, India, through Chandrayaan 2, had failed to make a soft landing on the moon, with the rover crashing in the final moments, though the mission had successfully inserted an orbiter to revolve around the moon.

Pictures of the moon surface taken by Chandrayaan on 19 August

Chandrayaan-1, India’s inaugural lunar mission, achieved a triumphant launch on 22 October, 2008, taking off from Sriharikota, in Southern India. Positioned at an orbital altitude of 100 km above the lunar terrain, the spacecraft conducted comprehensive chemical, mineralogical, and photo-geologic surveys of the Moon. Its payload encompassed 11 scientific instruments crafted by international collaborations spanning India, the USA, UK, Germany, Sweden, and Bulgaria.

Following the fulfilment of its primary mission objectives, the spacecraft’s orbit was elevated to 200 km in May 2009. Over the course of its mission, Chandrayaan-1 diligently completed more than 3400 orbits around the Moon. The mission reached its conclusion on 29 August, 2009, marked by a loss of communication with the spacecraft.

The Indian space agency has come a long way. From carrying parts of rockets on cycles and bullock carts in 1963 to being the first country to successfully achieve a soft landing on the Lunar south.This journey is nothing short of inspiring.

Ecstatic at India’s landing on the moon, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said: “India has finally landed on the moon. India has landed on the Southern part of the moon, achieving something no other country could.”

UK’s Space agency too joined in the celebrations and congratulated India: “History made! Congratulations to ISRO,” it tweeted.

India’s moon landing on the South Pole, opens up new avenues of research in space exploration. We at Asian Standard congratulates everyone who was involved in the mission.

Bollywood celebrities too joined in the fun.

King Khan, was quick to recall his evergreen song from Yes Boss: “Chaand Taare todh laoon….Saari Duniya par main chhaoon. Aaj india aur @isro chhaa gaya. Congratulations to all the scientists and engineers…the whole team which has made India so proud. Chandrayaan-3 has successfully soft-landed on the moon.”

Khiladi Akshay Kumar tweeted: “A billion hearts saying THANK YOU @isro. You’ve made us so proud. Lucky to be watching India make history. India is on the moon; we are over the moon. #Chandrayaan3”

Gadar 2 star Sunny Deol was quick to insert his famed dialogue “What a proud moment. #Hindustanzindabad tha hai or rahega”

Siddharth Malhotra tweeted: “Congratulations to @isro for the remarkable success of #Chandrayaan3’s landing! A proud and historic moment for all Indians.”