Moonstruck: The Chandrayaan 3 Landing

As Chandrayaan-3 embarked on its journey in July 2023, for a month and more, over a billion Indians closely tracked its circuitous path looking forward to a successful soft-landing on the moon, with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) having added to its empowerment with several new mechanisms, to avoid the repetition of its predecessor’s crash-landing on the lunar surface.

As crucial an achievement as this successful moon-landing was to ISRO, it would mark just the start of bigger space adventures. While only three countries had earlier managed this accomplishment (USA, Russia and China), in the larger scheme of things, the moon-landing milestone was a stepping stone to bigger ambitions and dreams that ISRO, and many other global space agencies were pursuing. The ability to make a controlled and safe landing on any planetary body unlocks new vistas in space exploration and space-based science and research.

On 23rd August, 2023, the Chandrayaan-3 lander made history by gently descending to the moon’s surface, touching down shortly after 6:00 pm, having initiated its 40-day journey from Sriharikota’s Sathish Dhawan Space Centre. At 6:04 PM (IST), the Chandrayaan-3’s Lander touched down close to the center of the 4.5-kilometer-wide area, that had been targeted for the landing. The Lander landed within 300 meters (985 feet) of that point. As per ISRO Chairman, S Somnath, the rover Pragyan was on the move, and working “very well.” Chandrayan-3 Rover will conduct experiments over 14 days, including an analysis of the mineral composition of the lunar surface. The mission cost over ₹600 crore.

Indians across the nation and the world were jubilant and ecstatic as India made history by becoming only the 4th country to have soft-landed a spacecraft on the Moon, and the very first to have done so in the Moon’s South Polar region.

With this achievement, India is now a member of the Artemis Accords, the US-led multilateral effort to place humans on the moon by 2025, and to expand human space exploration. In fact, India now has the opportunity to even lead other Artemis countries interested in maximising the contributions of the space sector to their economies, alongside the US.

India thus successfully demonstrated familiarity with the major types of interplanetary spacecraft: Orbiters, Landers, and Rovers. Chandrayaan-3’s Rover is fundamental to the planning and implementation of scientific missions. The data provided by the Chandrayaan-3 mission will be the first to physically, chemically, and thermally characterise the soil, subsoil, and air near the moon’s South Pole on location – thereby giving India a bit of an upper-hand, compared to many other space-faring countries.

In this monumental feat that has etched its name in YouTube history, the live broadcast of the triumphant landing of Chandrayaan-3 captivated the world’s attention, with YouTube witnessing an astounding convergence of over 8 million viewers! The official television viewership figures are yet to be released, but as social media accounts suggest, the livestream has obliterated all prior records for live viewership across any YouTube channel worldwide.


This historic moon-landing concludes the second phase of India’s lunar exploration programme. The third phase will begin with a collaboration between ISRO and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) for the Lunar Polar Exploration (LUPEX) mission. This mission also involves a Lander and a Rover that will explore and study the ‘water-ice’ present on moon’s South Pole surface. LUPEX will be employing the landing system that ISRO developed for Chandrayaan-2 and Chandrayaan -3.

ISRO now seems to be on a strong path with regard to its future missions. The success of Chandrayaan-3 has fostered ample confidence to graduate to the next steps – satellites powered by electric motors, quantum communications, human space flight, reusable launch vehicles, planetary habitation, interplanetary communications, and so many other missions.

India is over the moon and Indians are moonstruck with this landmark achievement which will now provide the chance for ISRO to lead from the front. As a matter of fact, ISRO has several important missions lined up after this. Among them is the ‘Gaganyaan’ – India’s first manned mission to space; a mission to study the Sun, and another one to Venus.  ISRO Chairman S Somnath said that India would next attempt a manned lunar mission.

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