In an audacious attempt to etch its name in the annals of space exploration history, India is poised to land a module on the moon’s surface. The Chandrayaan-3 mission, India’s first lunar landing attempt since an unsuccessful endeavor in 2019, comes hot on the heels of a similar failed attempt by Russia, amplifying the stakes and the global attention on this high-profile mission. The landing module, Vikram, is scheduled to touch down on the lunar surface on Wednesday morning ET, with the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) set to live stream the event in what promises to be a significant moment for space exploration.
If successful, India will join the elite group of nations—U.S., China, and the former Soviet Union—that have achieved a soft landing on the moon, a testament to the country’s technological prowess and ambition. More importantly, it will be the first nation to land near the moon’s South Pole, an area believed to harbor water ice, a crucial resource that could underpin future crewed missions to the moon. This region also offers the tantalizing prospect of "unprecedented deep space scientific discoveries that could help us learn about our place in the universe," according to NASA. The anticipation is palpable, with 1.4 billion Indians eagerly awaiting the successful soft landing of the Vikram lander.
India’s Chandrayaan-3 Prepares for Historic Lunar Landing
India, a rising power in the realm of space exploration, is about to attempt a daring lunar landing. The Chandrayaan-3 mission represents the country’s first attempt to land on the moon since the unsuccessful effort in 2019. This ambitious endeavor comes on the heels of Russia’s own failed lunar landing attempt.
A Journey to the Moon’s South Pole
The mission’s Vikram landing module is scheduled to reach the lunar surface on Wednesday morning ET. Anticipation is high for the live event, which will be streamed by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). Should India be successful, it will join the ranks of the U.S, China, and the former Soviet Union as one of the few nations to achieve a soft landing on the moon.
Notably, India also aims to be the first to successfully land near the moon’s South Pole. This area is of great interest to the scientific community, as it is believed to contain water ice, a crucial resource for future crewed moon missions. Additionally, NASA suggests that the region may enable "unprecedented deep space scientific discoveries that could help us learn about our place in the universe".
Vikram and Pragyan: Exploring the Lunar Landscape
Following a successful landing, the Vikram module will release a small rover named Pragyan. Armed with an array of scientific instruments, Pragyan will set out to explore its lunar surroundings. The anticipation around this mission is palpable. Pallava Bagla, science editor for India’s NDTV network, described the atmosphere in India as “electric,” adding that “1.4 billion Indians are waiting with bated breath to see a successful soft landing of the Vikram lander.”
Catch the Action Live
For those interested in witnessing this historic event, the Vikram landing module is expected to touch down on the lunar surface on Wednesday, August 23, at 8:34 a.m. ET (6:04 p.m. local time). ISRO will live stream the landing attempt, available via a player embedded on the ISRO website or through their YouTube channel. The live stream will begin at 7:50 a.m. ET.
India’s Chandrayaan-3 mission is not only a testament to the country’s technological advancements but also a beacon of hope for future lunar exploration. The mission’s success could pave the way for crucial scientific discoveries and further our understanding of the universe. As we await the outcome, the world watches with bated breath, rooting for India’s achievement in this bold lunar endeavor.