India successfully lands spacecraft on lunar south pole in historic mission

India launched Chandrayaan-3 nearly six weeks ago.
Chandrayaan-3, Satish Dhawan Space Centre, India, July 14, 2023


India successfully landed a spacecraft at the lunar south pole on Wednesday, becoming the first country to ever do so and opening up an unchartered territory on the moon that scientists believe could hold frozen water reserves.

Chandrayaan-3, which means "mooncraft" in Sanskrit, was scheduled to land shortly around 6 p.m. India time after leaving the country nearly six weeks ago, according to the BBC.

The last 15 minutes before its soft landing were the most critical, as the spacecraft attempted to touchdown on an uneven area of the moon. Additionally, the descent is completely automated without any ground intervention.

In 2019, the Indian Space Research Organisation lost control of Chandrayaan-2 during its final descent and the craft crashed.

Before Wednesday's landing, the agency said it had perfected the art of making it to the moon, "but it is the landing that the agency is working on," according to The Associated Press.

On Sunday, Russia's Roscosmos space agency said its Luna-25 spacecraft crashed into the moon during an attempted lunar landing.

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