Chandrayaan-3 on Moon: How August 23 feat reinforces India's stature as global space power
As India marks its triumphant lunar landing with Chandrayaan-3, it's worth assessing how this achievement stacks up against other space giants. Eva Kapoor explores the past achievements and current endeavours of these nations in the realm of moon missions.
As India celebrates the historic touchdown of Chandrayaan-3 mission's Vikram lander on the lunar surface, powering the country into the highly exclusive club of nations that have successfully achieved a soft landing on the moon, one must weigh the achievement against what other space powers are doing with regards to their own moon programs. Russia, China, and the United States of America have all achieved a soft landing on the moon in the past, but where are they now? Let us take a look
A formerly formidable space giant, Russia now seems to be anything but, with their first lunar mission in 47 years and Chandrayaan-3’s major competition - Luna-25 - unceremoniously crashing into the Moon.
Even though Russia (as the Soviet Union) set many records, such as launching the first artificial satellite of Earth (Sputnik 1), sending the first successful crewed space mission into orbit (Vostok 1) with Yuri Gagarin on board, and successfully accomplishing a soft landing on any celestial body for the first time in history with Luna-9, it seems that the country's superpowered spacefaring has declined since the dissolution of the USSR.
Although China started slow in the space race, its momentum has been picking up as of late, and it has become a strong contender in the field of lunar exploration. In 2013, they became the third nation to accomplish a soft landing on the Moon with their Chang’e 3 spacecraft and became the first to land on the far side of the Moon with Chang’e 4 in 2019.
Their latest moon mission, Chang’e 5, has successfully brought back samples of lunar soil to Earth in 2020. With their own space station and plans to put astronauts on the Moon, China is surely a force to be reckoned with in this aspect.
The United States’ space agency, NASA, is surely famous for being the first to land humans on the Moon, with its Apollo program and the famous lines of 'one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind'. In terms of soft landings on the Moon, the United States was the second nation to accomplish the feat with its Surveyor 1 lunar lander, hot on the tail of the USSR’s Luna-9.
Even today, its space program is going strong, with the ambitious Artemis program in progress and its second part, Artemis 2, planned for November 2024. Originally fueled by fierce competition with the USSR during the Cold War, the US space program has shown itself to be in a league of its own.
It can be definitely seen from all of these cases that India still has some large shoes to fill in the space race. However, since its humble beginnings of rocket parts wheeled around on bicycles, India’s space program has grown manifold to become an instrumental part of modern space research.