India is the fourth country to land on the moon, but the first to venture where no other has – the dark side of the moon. After the failed attempt of September 2019, when the lander lost touch with ground control minutes before it could touch down.
So ended the dream of over a billion people, Chandrayaan 3 ensured for India that the Moon landing would not remain a dream, but become a reality.
When on August 23, at 6.04 pm, Vikram landed on the moon, millions who were watching live on television or their hand-held devices, breathed in relief and cheered. That’s what this Moon landing meant to India and all Indians.
The Moon landing has united the country in a manner that only sports have done in the past. Across the country, people stopped what they were doing to watch the landing live.
This is an achievement not just for the scientists of the Indian Space Research Organisation, but for every Indian – the nation’s flag is now on the Moon.
The “20 minutes of terror” as it was being called when the lander would make its descent using two engines and reach the Moon’s surface, kept everybody glued to screens.
If it was tense for those watching at home, how much more must have been the tension at the Indian Space Research Organisation?
The smiles on the faces of the scientists, who stood up and cheered after the landing, said it all. What has been accomplished is no small achievement. The Indian Space Research Organisation has to be complimented on where it has taken the country in space research.
India has achieved what most other countries have not even attempted. There have been many attempts at landing on the Moon and many have failed.
In the days prior to the Chandrayaan 3 Vikram Lander’s success, a Russian attempt had ended in failure. Chandrayaan 3 is now among the 60 per cent of successful lunar missions, joining the United States of America, Russia and China who have made soft landings on the Moon.
The landing on the Moon now positions India as a global power in space. Its successes in launching satellites can only be boosted by the latest achievement of having landed on Earth’s only satellite. This also opens the country’s space programme to future possibilities.
Let’s not forget that India is the only Asian country to have a space probe orbiting Mars. India has proved that it is far ahead in space research, and there is still much to accomplish.
While the rest of us cheered the landing, posted our congratulations on social media and went back to what we were doing, for the team at ISRO, the work is far from over.
What mattered to us was the launch and the landing, but for the scientists, there is much more to do. The lunar surface rover had to still emerge from the Lander. It did.
Within hours of the landing, ISRO had announced that the communication link had already been established between the Chandrayaan-3 lander and the Mission Operations Centre and ISRO’s Telemetry, Tracking and Command (ISTRAC) in Bengaluru.
A few pictures of the Moon’s surface were also released. The lunar surface rover, with a life of 14 Earth days, will keep sending back pictures and data from the moon to ISRO for scientists to analyse.
As ISRO said, the next 14 days of experiments by the instruments on the lander and rover will be exciting. It’s not over yet.
The setback of September 2019, has led to the success of August 2023. ISRO did not wallow in the failed attempt but corrected what had gone wrong and launched another mission. This was truly a Jai Hind moment, and every Indian will have proudly felt that nudge of patriotism seeping in. India was on the moon.
What has been achieved is just the first step. Perhaps one day, India will send a manned mission to the Moon. The success of this one could spur ISRO to expedite the landing of a man on Earth’s satellite.
That’s another dream to have, given the success of Chandrayaan 3. Let’s not forget that ISRO did say that the landing velocity that was less than the targeted 2 metres per second gives great hope for future missions. We wait for those missions in the future. There is a whole universe out there to explore.