INDIA’S historic attempt to land lunar spacecraft Chandrayaan-3 on the moon's south pole has been successful today
It marks a major step forward in the search for water-based ice, which scientists believe is key to future human habitation on the Moon.
"India is now on the moon," Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi proudly announced.
"This is the heartbeat of 1.4billion people. This is the new India, the new beginning, the new thinking of the new efforts.
"This is a feature of the shine of India – we made a promise and we made it true on the surface of the moon.
"This is a historic moment, and for every Indian, we are all very proud."
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The country has made history by becoming the first nation to land near the Moon's South Pole with its Chandrayaan-3 craft.
The success makes India the fourth country to have achieved a soft landing on the Moon.
While the US, the former Soviet Union and China have all achieved a soft landing near the moon's equator – none have led successful missions to the lunar south pole.
It comes just days after Russia’s own lunar spacecraft – it’s first in 47 years – spun out of control and crashed into the moon after a problem preparing for pre-landing orbit.
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The Chandrayaan-3, which means “mooncraft” in Sanskrit, launched on July 14 and entered lunar orbit on August 5 carrying the Vikram lander.
It was India’s second try at a moon landing, following the Chandrayaan-2 attempt in 2019 which crashed into the lunar surface.
Scientists lost contact with the second moon module moments before its planned landing.
Chandrayaan-2 wasn't a complete failure, however, as it sent an orbiter to the moon – which remains active today – before it’s explosive demise.
But space chiefs say they learnt a lot from the mission.
Former Indian space chief K Sivan told AFP on Monday that Chandrayaan-3’s last photos transmitted back to Earth suggested the voyage would be successful.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) had made corrections after the failure of four years ago, Sivan added.
“Chandrayaan-3 is going to go with more ruggedness,” he said.
While Sivan spoke of "ruggedness" prior to the landing attempt, scientists fired just two engines to steadily maneuver the spacecraft toward the lunar surface, in the final moments before onlookers erupted in cheer.
Dr Ian Whittaker, a space physics expert at Nottingham Trent University, said the landing will allow India to become a bigger player on cooperative missions in the future.
“No one agency will be able to have a lunar base alone and the ability to show successful technology opens the doors for India.
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“The successful landing means that the rover and station should provide us with a more accurate determination of lunar crust composition, particularly around the lunar south pole which is a suggested location for a lunar base due to the ability to have constant sunlight for power.
“The instruments on board the rover will be useful for if we want to build structures out of local material.”
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