India will launch its second attempt to land on the moon on Wednesday, a mission viewed as critical to lunar exploration and the country’s standing as a space power, only days after a similar Russian lander crashed.
Less than a week after Russia’s Luna-25 mission failed, the Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO) Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft will make an attempt to land on the lunar south pole at around 6:04 p.m. local time (12:34 p.m. GMT) on Wednesday.
According to media reports, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will watch the arrival from South Africa, where he is attending the ongoing BRICS conference.
A successful moon landing would symbolize India’s rise as a space power, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government seeks to stimulate investment in private space launches and satellite-based industries.
India’s project, dubbed Chandrayaan (meaning “moon vehicle” in Hindi and Sanskrit), is the country’s second effort to land on the moon.
The orbiter of ISRO’s Chandrayaan-2 mission was successfully deployed in 2019, but the lander crashed. “Landing on the moon’s south pole would allow India to investigate whether there is water ice on the moon.”
“This is critical for the accumulation of data and science on the geology of the moon,” Carla Filotico, a partner and managing director at consultancy SpaceTec Partners, said.
The excitement and anticipation for the landing were palpable on Wednesday, with banner headlines across newspapers and television stations running countdown timers to the touchdown. Prayers were held around the country in temples, mosques, and churches, and schoolchildren waved the Indian tricolor as they awaited live coverage of the arrival.
According to media reports, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will watch the arrival from South Africa, where he is attending the ongoing BRICS conference. A south pole landing is challenging due to the rough terrain, and a first landing would be historic. Water ice in the region could provide fuel, oxygen, and drinking water for future missions.