India’s Chandrayaan 3 makes successful lunar landing

Updated: 12 p.m. EDT with landing photo

The first image released from Chandrayaan 3 on the surface shows part of a landing leg and its accompanying shadow. Image: ISRO.

India’s space agency said Wednesday it had successfully landed its Chandrayaan 3 robotic probe on the surface of the Moon. The Chandrayaan 3 lander touched down near the South Pole of the Moon at about 8:33 a.m. EDT (6:03 p.m. IST).

“We have achieved soft landing on the moon,” said Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman Shri Somanath. “Yes, on the moon!”

Mission Control erupts in celebration with the confirmation of a successful landing of Chandrayaan 3. Image: ISRO.

Lunar landings have proved challenging recently with the crash of Russia’s Luna 24 probe this weekend, the loss of the Japanese privately-operated Hakuto-R Mission 1 and the failure of India’s own Chandrayaan 2 lander in September 2019.

Wednesday’s descent and landing appeared to go flawlessly. Ten minutes after touchdown two antennae at NASA’s Deep Space Network tracking station at Canberra, Australia, were still receiving telemetry from the lander.

In an animation displayed on mission control screens, Chandrayaan 3 is seen to hover above the lunar surface just prior to landing. Image: ISRO.

Chandrayaan 3 lifted off on July 14, 2023, atop a Launch Vehicle Mark 3 (LVM3) from Sriharikota, India. The name of the mission comes from the Sanskrit words “Chandra- Moon, Yaan-vehicle,” according to the ISRO.

The lander is carrying a suite of payloads, including a small rover. According to Indian space agency’s mission profile, both the lander and the rover are expected to have a mission life of just one lunar day, which translates to 14 Earth days.