Remember viral video of Modi consoling Isro chief in tears? From Chandrayaan-1 to 3, how India beat odds to land on Moon

Here's a quick timeline of how far the country has come — from suffering technical failure and crash-landing on the Moon's surface to making history

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Published: Thu 24 Aug 2023, 11:35 AM

It took India 15 years, but on Wednesday, the nation scripted history by becoming the first country to land a spacecraft near the Moon’s south pole. In doing so, it has now joined the elite club of nations that have touched down on the lunar surface.

Chandrayaan-3 is India’s third lunar mission and its second attempt to explore the south pole of the moon. From suffering technical failure in space to crash-landing on the Moon's surface, here's a quick timeline of how the country overcame all odds to achieve the impossible on August 23:


Chandrayaan–1 (2008)

Representative image by Reuters
Representative image by Reuters

Launched on October 22, 2008, Chandrayaan–1 was India’s first deep space mission and first mission to the moon that played a crucial role in the discovery of water molecules on the lunar surface. It was aimed at studying the chemical, mineralogical, and photogeologic mapping of the moon and carried five Indian instruments in addition to equipment from the US, UK, Sweden, Bulgaria, and Germany.

Chandrayaan-1 also carried a Moon Impact Probe (MIP), which was intended to crash into the moon’s surface for scientific purposes.


The spacecraft, however, suffered a star sensor failure after nine months of operating in lunar orbit. Its backup sensor also failed, rendering the spacecraft’s primary attitude control system inoperable. The last contact with Chandrayaan-1 was established on August 28, 2009. However, the mission had already achieved 95 per cent of its objectives by then.

Chandrayaan-2 (2019)

India’s second moon mission, Chandrayaan-2, headed to space on July 22, 2019, comprising an orbiter, lander, and rover. It was intended to explore the lunar south pole. However, Isro lost communication with the Vikram lander in September 2019 while it was making its final descent. The Indian space agency tried to reestablish the connection, to no avail.

Back then, a video of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi consoling then-Isro chairman K. Sivan went viral.

The lander had crashed on the moon’s surface instead of landing on it in a controlled manner.

Chandrayaan–3 (2023)

On August 23, the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft successfully soft-landed on the moon’s south pole, making history. "Chandrayaan-3 has successfully soft-landed on the Moon," ISRO announced at its headquarters in a moment few viewers will forget, as the control room erupted in jubilant cheers and applause. Launched in July, the spacecraft orbited the Earth several times to gain the required speed and reach the moon.

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