Written by: Ayanangsha Maitra
Amidst an aura of profound anticipation at the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) on August 23rd, Sridhar Panikar Somnath, the chairman of ISRO, jubilantly proclaimed, “India stands on the moon!” From the BRICS summit in South Africa, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi ignited inspiration across the Global South for ambitious space exploration. Following in the footsteps of the United States, China, and the former Soviet Union’s lunar missions, India has achieved the remarkable feat of becoming the fourth nation to accomplish a controlled lunar landing. Notably, India proudly stands as the pioneer that has touched down on the moon’s enigmatic south pole—an audacious endeavor once deemed beyond the grasp of any superpower. The Vikram lander touched the lunar surface at 6:04 pm (Indian time) on August 23rd.
The significance of India’s lunar triumph deepens against the backdrop of recent shocking events, such as Russia’s Luna-25 crash. Most intriguingly, this lunar mission has been achieved on a shoestring budget compared to the production cost of a major motion picture. The expenditure for launching this spacecraft amounted to a mere 600 crore rupees or around $75 million, whereas Russia’s ill-fated lunar endeavor incurred a staggering expense of 16,000 crore rupees.
Between the years 2018 and 2022, ISRO orchestrated the launch of 177 foreign satellites, catering to countries like Australia, Canada, and Brazil, among others. This initiative has not only elevated India’s global prestige but has also generated an income of $100 million. Although Japan engaged in this global space race, its efforts, unfortunately, fell short. Even Israel, renowned for its technological prowess, faced setbacks in its lunar mission.
India’s lunar venture holds the promise of unveiling pivotal insights into the presence of oxygen and hydrogen on the moon’s surface. Through this scientific endeavor, we might glean vital information about the historical possibility of life on the moon. With Chandrayaan-3’s Pragyan rover successfully landing on lunar terrain, it has embarked on a series of diverse experiments to unravel the enigmas concealed within the moon’s crust. As stated by ISRO, the data collected by the rover will be relayed to the lander and subsequently transmitted back to Earth. The Chandrayaan-3 lander module, referred to as ILSA (Instrument for Lunar Seismic Activity), plays a pivotal role in detecting and investigating seismic activities on the moon.
Historically, space was predominantly governed by the United States and the former Soviet Union, leaving little room for other countries’ aspirations. However, the realm of space exploration is no longer confined to the rivalry between two nations. As the world advances towards a multi-polar global order, India’s lunar accomplishment underscores that developing nations can actively participate in space missions. By consecutively launching satellites for third-world countries, India has illuminated a path for space exploration, demonstrating the way forward for nations of the Southern Hemisphere. India’s triumphant strides in lunar exploration, coinciding with its prestigious role as the president of the G-20, resonate as a profound wellspring of inspiration for countries in the Global South.
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