India Joins Space Race in a Big Way with Lunar Landing

Aug 24, 2023

India has successfully landed two robotic vessels on the moon’s surface. That's something only three other countries have done before.

The unmanned space mission was called Chandrayaan-3. It carried a lander and a rover on it. The two crafts touched down on the moon’s southern polar region. It marks the first time spacecrafts from Earth have landed on this part of the moon. India now joins the US, the former Soviet Union, and China as countries that have made successful lunar landings.

Space travel is not the first thing people think of when thinking about India. But, the South Asian nation's space program has orbited the moon and Mars. It also routinely launches satellites above Earth. It has done so while spending far less money on its space program than other nations. Still, experts said the scientific feat presents more proof that India is an emerging world power.  

“We are witnessing the rise of new India,” India’s prime minister said in a video call.

The Indian mission launched in July and took a longer, slower route to the moon than Russia’s Luna-25 probe, which took off two weeks ago. The Russian craft was supposed to land on the moon earlier this week. Instead, it crashed into the moon after a malfunction. India’s success and Russia’s failure suddenly created a shift in the Space Race.

The Indian mission is scheduled to end in two weeks when the sun sets. The lander and rover are solar-powered. That means they require sunlight to function. While on a part of the moon’s surface that has not been explored, the crafts will take scientific measurements. 

Photo from Reuters.

Reflect: Why might it be exciting when a country achieves something important in space, like landing on the moon? How do you think it might change what people think about that country?

The story is mainly about _______. (Common Core RI.5.2; RI.6.2)
a. Russia’s failed mission to the moon
b. Indian space craft landing on the moon successfully
c. how space crafts work on the moon’s surface
d. the various countries that have successfully landed in the moon
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