India’s moon landing boosts prestige at home and abroad

A robotic Indian lander set down safely on the moon today, setting off a wave of pride that reached from Mission Control in Bengaluru to Seattle’s tech community.

“India is now on the moon,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said over a video link moments after the landing at 6:03 p.m. Indian Standard Time (5:33 a.m. PT). He went on to say that “this success belongs to all humanity.”

A roomful of mission controllers in Bengaluru cheered when the landing was confirmed at the end of a six-week-long space odyssey. “This will remain the most memorable and happiest moment for all of us,” said Kalpana Kalahasti, associate project director for the Chandrayaan-3 mission at the Indian Space Research Organization.

Today’s touchdown added India to an exclusive club of moon-landing nations that also includes the U.S., Russia and China. India’s Vikram lander is the first robotic probe to visit the moon’s south polar region, which is thought to be prime territory for human exploration and settlement.

Soon after the landing, Vikram sent back an image showing its surroundings — including one of the lander’s legs and its shadow.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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