‘India is on the Moon’: Success following Russia’s crash landing puts pressure on China

by WorldTribune Staff / 247 Real News August 23, 2023

India on Wednesday claimed to be the first to land a space vehicle at the Moon’s South Pole.

With the perfectly-executed landing, India joins the United States, Soviet Union, and China as the only countries that have reported successfully managing a controlled landing of a craft on the Moon’s surface.

The unmanned Chandrayaan-3 (“Moon Craft”) space vehicle, launched on July 14 and entered lunar orbit on Aug. 5.

“India is on the moon!” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said over an Internet link as he attended the BRICS summit. Addressing “all the people of the world,” Modi said the feat showed what “those from the Global South are capable of.”

“We can all aspire for the moon — and beyond,” Modi said.

India’s landing came days after a Russian unmanned Luna-25 mission to the same area lost control and crashed into the lunar surface.

Though the Soviet Union put the first satellite into orbit and the first man into space, the U.S. remains the only nation to land humans on the Moon via the Apollo launches of 1969-1972. U.S. space officials are hoping to land humans on the Moon again via the Artemis program by 2025. China has said it plans a manned mission to the Moon by 2030.

Related: What next? Russian Moon failure raises stakes for China, August 22, 2023

Writing for Geostrategy-Direct.com on Tuesday, Richard Fisher noted:

Luna-25’s main mission was to land on the South Pole of the Moon with an instrument package to help determine the existence of water-ice, essential for processing oxygen to sustain manned Moon missions, and even for producing rocket fuels, both of which would reduce the requirement for transporting those supplies to the Moon.

Success would have given both Russia and China a propaganda boost for their ILRS, perhaps easing their ability to attract new paying partners, or even to laud at the Aug. 22 to 23 BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) summit in South Africa that may see an expansion of its membership.

But instead, for Russian leader Vladimir Putin, his space program has denied him a much-needed propaganda victory to contrast with his failed war in Ukraine.

Putin also has to consider that in the view of his more powerful partner China, the Luna-25 failure has tarnished Russia’s potential as a technically sophisticated main partner for securing control of the Moon from the American-led Artemis Accords coalition.

A livestream from mission control on Wednesday showed India space program officials bursting into rounds of applause as different phases of the descent, deceleration, and landing were completed. As the vehicle made contact, officials rose from their seats and cheered.

The second stage of India’s Moon mission — the deployment of a lunar rover — is still pending.

India’s previous attempt on landing on the Moon, in 2019, failed as the Chandrayaan-2 crashed on the lunar surface.

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