India's Chandrayaan-3 to make historic attempt at moon landing today
Just a few hours from now, India will make its latest attempt at a moon landing, as its Chandrayaan, or 'Mooncraft' lands on the Moon's South Pole.
The touch down which comes days after Russia failed to achieve the same feat is scheduled for shortly after 6:00 pm India time (1230 GMT) on Wednesday (August 23rd).
Success or failure
If it succeeds in its attempt, the Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft will be the first to land on the lunar South Pole — a region whose shadowed craters are believed to house water ice that could support a future moon settlement.
Previously, in 2019, India's effort to crest the lunar surface had ended in failure. However, as per Indian space chief K. Sivan, the latest photos transmitted back home by the Vikram lander give every indication that the last leg of the voyage would succeed.
Talking to news agency AFP, Sivan said: "It is giving some encouragement that we will be able to achieve the landing mission without any problem."
In 2019, ISRO lost contact with the previous lunar module just moments before its slated landing. This time "Chandrayaan-3 is going to go with more ruggedness," said Sivan, adding "We have confidence, and we expect that everything will go smoothly."
Abuzz with excitement
India launched its Chandrayaan-3 mission six weeks back. The spacecraft, which uses rockets much less powerful than those used by the United States for its Apollo Missions in the 1960s and 1970s and pays homage to India's "frugal engineering" the nation's latest moon mission carries a price tag of $74.6 million, far lower than other countries.
After taking off in front of thousands of cheering spectators, the probe spent some time orbiting Earth several times to gain speed before embarking on its lunar journey.
Last week, the lander Vikram, which in Sanskrit means 'Valour' detached from the spacecraft. Since entering the lunar orbit on August 5th, it has beamed back images of the moon's surface, which have added to the buzz.
On Tuesday, August 22nd, a day before the landing, ISRO took to social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, to announce that its mission control complex was "buzzed with energy & excitement" and that the "Smooth sailing is continuing."