Chandrayaan-2: World media hails India’s great leap forward
Washington/London: “India is on its way to the moon,” a leading US newspaper wrote on Monday as the country successfully launched its second lunar mission to explore the moon’s uncharted south pole by landing a rover there.
The country’s most powerful rocket “GSLV-Mk-III” carrying the orbiter, lander Vikram and rover Pragyaan took off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. The 3,850-kg Chandrayaan-2 was launched on Monday after a technical snag forced the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to abort the planned July 15 mission.
The Lander and the Rover are expected to touch down near the Lunar South Pole in early September, becoming the first ever spacecraft to land in that region. The Lunar South Pole remains unexplored till date.
The launch of Chandrayaan-2 comes at 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 recalled.
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 USD 1.8 billion budget. In comparison, NASA received USD 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.
In 2014, India became the first Asian nation to reach the Red Planet, when it put the Mangalyaan probe into orbit around Mars. The Mars Orbiter Mission famously cost USD 74 million — less than the $100 million than Hollywood spent making space thriller “Gravity.”
In 2017, India launched a record 104 satellites in one mission while operating a low-cost budget, the CNN report noted.
Leading British newspaper, The Guardian 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.
It is the most complex mission ever attempted by India’s space agency, the BBC commented while noting that there was applause in the ISRO control room minutes after the launch, as the rocket took off towards the outer atmosphere.
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.