India , Wednesday, became the first nation to land a craft near the Moon’s south pole, a historic triumph for the world’s most populous nation and its ambitious, cut-price space programme.
The unmanned Chandrayaan-3, which means “Mooncraft” in Sanskrit, touched down at 6:04p.m. India time, as mission control technicians cheered wildly and embraced their colleagues at Satish Dhawan Space Centre.
Its landing comes days after a Russian probe crashed in the same region and four years since the previous Indian attempt failed at the last moment.
It touched down six weeks after launching on board a rocket from a spaceport in Andhra Pradesh.
Prime Minister, Narendra Modi joined a conference call at the space centre to watch the landing, waving an Indian flag when the spacecraft landed.
“On this joyous occasion I would like to address the people of the world,” said Modi from the sidelines of the BRICS diplomatic summit in South Africa.
Making a triumphant speech to the Space Research Organisation, he said: “This is the heartbeat of 1.4 billion people. This is the new India, the new beginning, the new thinking of the new efforts.
“This is a feature of the shine of India. We made a promise and we made it true on the surface of the moon. This is a historic moment, and for every Indian, we are all very proud.”
Politicians staged Hindu prayer rituals to wish for the mission’s success and pupils followed the final moments of the landing from live broadcasts in classrooms.
Modi’s message was relayed at Aderemi Makanjuola Lecture Theater, Lagos State University (LASU), where Consulate General of India, in association with Sanyukta Bhartiya Association, Lagos, organised the streaming at 1.30p.m. yesterday.
The event was witnessed by Consul Mahesh Narasimhan of Consulate General of India, top members of India communities in Lagos, including Ramesh Biswal, Pravin Kumar, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Adenike Omotunde Boyo, who represented the Vice Chancellor, LASU, Prof. Ibiyemi Olatunji Bello, other professors, top lecturers in the university and students among others.
Boyo said the purpose of LASU handling the streaming was to inspire students in the area of similar explorations. Biswal said the successful landing on the moon and the findings will open doors for the possibility of humans to possibly live on the moon.
Chandrayaan-3 took much longer to reach the Moon than the Apollo missions in the 1960s and 1970s, which arrived in a matter of days. The lander, Vikram, which means “valour” in Sanskrit, detached from its propulsion module last week and has been sending images of the Moon’s surface since entering lunar orbit on August 5.
India is closing in on milestones set by global space powers such as the United States and Russia, conducting many of its missions at much lower price tags.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday hailed the “impressive” achievement from India. Putin sent his “heartfelt congratulations” to Indian PM Modi.
“This is a big step forward in space exploration and, of course, a testament to the impressive progress made by India in the field of science and technology,” the Kremlin statement read.
Over the weekend, Russia’s own Moon lander — the first in almost 50 years — had crashed after an incident during pre-landing manoeuvres. Russian space agency Roscosmos has vowed to stay in the lunar race, amid a renewed push for exploration that has drawn in both the world’s top space powers and new players.
“Roscosmos congratulates Indian colleagues on the successful landing of the Chandrayaan-3,” Roscosmos said on Wednesday.
“Exploration of the Moon is important for the whole of humanity, in the future it may become a platform for the deeper mastering of space.”