Washington: Hours after India’s Chandrayaan-2 lifted off, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) congratulated the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for the successful launch of its second moon mission. The US space agency added they were looking forward to find out what the Indian space agency learns about the lunar south pole.
“Congrats to Isro on the launch of Chandrayaan 2, a mission to study the Moon. We’re proud to support your mission comms using our Deep Space Network and look forward to what you learn about the lunar South pole where we will send astronauts on our #Artemis mission in a few years,” Nasa tweeted.
The launch of India’s second moon mission garnered attention by global media with a leading US newspaper writing “India is on its way to the moon”, shortly after Isro’s powerful rocket GSLV MkIII M1 lifted off from the spaceport in Sriharikota at 2.43 PM and successfully placed the 3,850-kg Chandrayaan-2 into the earth orbit about 16 minutes later.
The launch of Chandrayaan-2 comes close on the heels of the 50th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11, when man first landed on the moon, The Washington Post commented.
India has also announced its intention of sending a manned space mission by 2022, the leading American newspaper noted.
India’s low-cost, homegrown technology that has powered its space programme is a source of national pride and inspiration, it said.
Quoting experts, the Post said the successful second attempt so soon after the aborted launch highlights Isro’s confidence in its technological capabilities, which have not been hamstrung by its paltry $1.8 billion budget. In comparison, Nasa received $21.5 billion in funds this year, the Post noted.
“If the rest of the mission goes as well, India will become the fourth nation — after the United States, Russia and China — to land on the moon, more than 200,000 miles away. Its target is a region near the mysterious south pole, where no other missions have explored,” The New York Times commented.
“This would be a huge leap forward for India’s ambitious space programme, and scientists and defence experts everywhere are watching to see whether the country can pull it off,” it said.
“So are countless Indians. There are few things as unifying for a nation as a successful space programme, and, over the past few weeks, Chandrayaan-2 posters have popped up everywhere and schoolchildren have been hunched over rockets made from soda bottles, learning the physics of rocketry,” the report noted.
This mission is significant for India – the country wants to become a major space player and put Indian astronauts in space by 2022, CNN commented.
The Guardian, a leading British newspaper, reported that Chandrayaan-2 aims to become the first mission to conduct a surface landing on the lunar south pole region, where it will collect crucial information about the moon’s composition.
It would be India’s first surface landing on the moon – a feat previously achieved by only Russia, the US and China, the paper noted.
The Times newspaper of London reported that India has launched a rocket to the moon, aiming to become the fourth country to land a craft on the lunar surface and cement its emergence as a leading space power.
China’s state-run Xinhua news agency gave extensive coverage to Chandrayaan-2’s launch and reactions of President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Pakistan’s leading newspapers on their websites displayed the news of the launch by international news agencies.
Notably, the spacecraft took off exactly a week after the mission had to be aborted after a last-minute technical. In the run-up to the launch, ISRO chief K Sivan had said that the Chandrayaan-2 will perform 15 manoeuvres in all. Sivan said that the spacecraft would be making a soft landing on the moon, “it will land on the South Pole. There is a lot of scientific testing to be done regarding the mission. Scientists around the world are looking forward to the launch.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi responded and called the launch the “prowess of our scientists and the determination of 130 crore Indians to scale new frontiers of science”.
Congratulating ISRO for the successful launch, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh tweeted, “Team ISRO scripted a new chapter in India’s space history with the launch of this ambitious & indigenous Mission to Moon.”
(With agency inputs)