In Racing to the Moon, India Makes History as Russia Falters

Aug 24, 2023 | 18:30 GMT

A paramilitary trooper in Srinagar, India, watches a live telecast of the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft's lunar landing on Aug. 23, 2023.
A live telecast of the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft's lunar landing is displayed on a screen in Srinagar, India, on Aug. 23, 2023.

(TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP via Getty Images)

Lunar exploration will be a focal point of the 21st-century space race, as countries and companies seek to establish a presence on the moon as a starting point for deep space exploitation. But the divergent outcomes of recent lunar missions also demonstrate the challenges that will hobble some space powers, most notably Russia. On Aug. 23, the Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) Chandrayaan-3 mission and its Vikram lunar lander successfully performed a soft landing on the moon near the lunar south pole. In doing so, India became only the fourth country to successfully perform a soft-landing on the lunar surface (after the Soviet Union, United States and China) -- and the first to do so near the lunar south pole, where craters are believed to have high concentrations of water ice. Three days earlier, Russian space agency Roscosmos' Luna-25 lander, which was racing to beat India to the lunar south...

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