As it happened: India makes history! Chandrayaan-3 lands on Moon

After a failed attempt nearly four years ago, India made history by becoming the first country to touch down near the little-explored south pole region


Kirstin Bernabe

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Published: Wed 23 Aug 2023, 3:42 PM

Last updated: Wed 23 Aug 2023, 10:25 PM

[Editor's Note: This blog is now closed. More updates will be coming up on this website and Khaleej Times' social media accounts.]

India's lunar spacecraft landed safely near the Moon's little-explored south pole on Wednesday, sparking wild celebrations and applause among technicians guiding the mission.

"Chandrayaan-3 has successfully soft-landed on the Moon," the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) announced at its headquarters.

Joining the US, the Soviet Union and China, India is now officially the fourth country to have landed on the Moon. It is the first country to have reached the unexplored lunar south pole.

New Delhi's attempt comes days after the crash-landing on the Moon of Russia's Luna-25 probe.

Chandrayaan-3, which means "Mooncraft" in Sanskrit, follows India's successful launch of a probe into lunar orbit in 2008 and a failed lunar landing in 2019.

The mission launched in mid-July and orbited Earth several times to build up the necessary speed for its journey.

Here's how the historic moment unfolded:

4.40pm: Modi inspires nation

India's successful moon mission is not just India's alone, Modi says.

This success, he says, "belongs to all of humanity and it will help moon missions by other countries in future".

"I am confident that all countries of the world, including from the global South, are capable of achieving such things," he adds.

The prime minister vows to go further in the future, undertake more work in the space industry for future generations.

4.37pm: New pride, new hope for India

Soon after Chandrayaan-3's Moon-landing was confirmed, Prime Minister Modi addressed the public — saying this mission represents a "new pride, new hope" for India.

4.33pm: Touchdown!

India made it! Chandrayaan-3 landed successfully on the Moon.

4.31pm: Distance down to 150 metres

The spacecraft is now hovering, nearly at 0 velocity, horizontal and vertical.

4.29pm: Chandrayaan-3 less than 1km away

4.23pm: Modi joins in

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi joined the Isro Moon-landing monitoring, calling in from Johannesburg to encourage the team.

4.20: Good sign!

Chandrayaan-3 continues to send images from the lunar surface:

4.17pm: All eyes on lander

Isro team is watching every data as landing nears — but at this point, no ground intervention can be done as the automated system has been activated:

4.14pm: Applause breaks out

The pivotal powered descent has begun. The lander module is now moving towards the moon surface along the intended trajectory.

The lander module has travelled a distance of approx 228 kms. The complete downrange shall be nearly 713.5km.

Applause filled the Isro control room when it was announced that the lander is on on trajectory.

4.12pm: Scientists analysing data

Chandrayaan-3 is now approaching the power descent phase.

Isro scientists are closely monitoring the complex data that is being transmitted from the spacecraft.

4.02pm: So far so good

Chandrayaan-3 arrives at a crucial juncture "wherein the orbit plane contains the desired landing site", Isro announces.

Images from the spacecraft's camera are being received continuously — which means the mission is on track.

3.45pm: Where exactly will it land?

Here are some snaps that capture the far side area where Chandrayaan-3 is expected to land (the photos are shared by Isro):

3.34pm: One hour to go

If Chandrayaan-3 successfully lands on the Moon— at around 4.34pm, UAE time — it is expected to remain functional for two weeks, running a series of experiments including a spectrometer analysis of the mineral composition of the lunar surface.

It is 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 colon.

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