India Lands on the Moon With Its Chandrayaan-3 Mission

India made history on August 23, 2023, by becoming the first country to land near the south pole of the Moon with its Chandrayaan-3 lander. This achievement also marks India as the first country to land on the Moon since China in 2020.

India is among several countries, including the United States with its Artemis program, that are striving to land on the Moon. The south pole of the Moon holds particular interest due to its unexplored surface, which is characterized by craters, trenches, and pockets of ancient ice.

©India Space Research Organisation

The Conversation U.S. sought the insights of international affairs expert Mariel Borowitz regarding the implications of this Moon landing for both science and the global community.

Borowitz explains that countries are interested in going to the Moon because it serves as a source of inspiration, allows for testing the limits of human technical capabilities, and provides an opportunity to learn more about our solar system. The Moon holds historical and cultural significance that resonates with people worldwide. Additionally, exploring the Moon presents a unique opportunity for international cooperation and competition in a peaceful manner.

The fact that numerous nations, such as the United States, Russia, China, India, and Israel, along with commercial entities, are interested in landing on the Moon opens up possibilities for forging new partnerships. These partnerships enable nations to pool resources and encourage peaceful cooperation on Earth by connecting researchers and organizations.

Furthermore, some individuals believe that Moon exploration can lead to economic benefits. In the short term, this could involve the emergence of space technology startups contributing to these missions. India has already witnessed a surge in space startups. In the long run, the Moon may offer economic benefits through the utilization of natural resources found there, such as water, helium-3, and rare Earth elements.

The increase in the number of nations involved in space activity over the past few decades is evident. This trend extends beyond satellites collecting data about the Earth to space exploration, particularly the Moon. While the goals of Moon exploration align with those of the first space race in the 1960s, this time there are multiple participants, creating opportunities for cooperation and new international partnerships. Additionally, advancements in technology and the involvement of new actors open up the potential for more sustainable exploration, including the establishment of Moon bases, the utilization of lunar resources, and engaging in economic activities on the Moon.

India’s accomplishment with the Chandrayaan-3 mission is significant and exciting. However, it is worth noting that there are currently seven missions operating on and around the Moon. These include South Korea’s Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter, NASA’s CAPSTONE spacecraft, NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, China’s Chang’e-4 and Chang’e-5 landers, and Russia’s Luna-25 mission. Despite some missions experiencing setbacks or crashes, their development and proximity to success are still noteworthy achievements.

The south pole of the Moon is the primary focus for future exploration. NASA’s 13 candidate landing locations for the Artemis program are all located near the south pole. This area offers great potential for discovering water ice, which can support astronauts and be used to produce rocket fuel. Additionally, the south pole has peaks that receive constant or near-constant sunlight, providing excellent opportunities for generating power to support lunar activities.

In conclusion, India’s successful Moon landing adds to the global interest in space exploration. It highlights the potential for scientific discoveries, international cooperation, economic benefits, and sustainable exploration. The south pole of the Moon emerges as a crucial area for future missions due to its unique features and resource potential.