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Moon landing done, now ISRO chief sets eyes on Mars

Last updated on: August 23, 2023 21:37 IST

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman S Somanath on Wednesday toasted the success of the Chandrayaan-3 mission, crediting it to the 'pain and agony' of all the scientists who persevered on it, and expressed confidence that the space agency would similarly land a spacecraft on Mars in the coming years.

IMAGE: ISRO chairman S Somanath shows victory sign after the successful soft-landing Chandrayaan-3 Lander Vikram on the surface of Moon during Chandrayaan-3 Mission, at ISRO in Bengaluru on Wednesday. Photograph: ANI Photo

Acknowledging the contribution of a generation of leadership by the scientists of the country's space agency for the Chandrayaan-3 mission's success, he said this is an 'incremental progress' and 'definitely a huge one'.


The journey to the Moon is tough and soft-landing is difficult for any nation to achieve today even with the advancement of technology, he said, pointing out that India achieved it in just two missions.

Chandrayaan-2, the first mission with the objective of soft landing on the Moon had a narrow miss, while the Chandrayaan-3 mission was perfectly executed.

Chandrayaan-1's objective was only to place an an unmanned spacecraft in an orbit around the Moon.

"It (success of Chandrayaan-3 mission) gives confidence to configure missions to not only go to the Moon, but also to go to Mars, sometimes (perhaps) land on Mars, may be in future go to Venus and other planets...," he said.

Undertaking the Chandrayaan-3 mission was difficult, he said. "We went through a lot of pain and agony".

Key scientists behind Chandrayaan-2 were also part of the Chandrayaan-3 team, he said.

"Most of the people who were with Chandrayaan-2 are with us helping us to do Chandrayaan-3.They are a part of this, they have gone through such an agony..."

"...the technology that we have in Chandrayaan-3 is no less complex or inferior to any other technology that goes to the Moon. So, we have the best of the sensors of the world, best in class (equipment) in Chandrayaan-3," he said, explaining that it was a completely 'Made-in-India' mission using world-class components.

Conveying the greetings of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the ISRO team, he said, "The Honourable PM called me and conveyed his greetings to each one of you and your family for the wonderful work you did in ISRO."

Speaking about the support from the government to pursue further space missions, both scientific as well as commercial, he said, "Thanks to him (PM) for the support he is giving to us for missions like Chandrayaan-3 and missions that are in the offing. That's the great word of comfort that we are receiving for pursuing the inspirational work that we are doing for the nation."

The ISRO chief said the prime minister is 'very, very clear about the long-term vision, and wants to make sure that we remain very, very dominant in the area of space exploration and science'.

Addressing the ISRO team at the Mission Operations Complex, he thanked all those who prayed for the mission's success, and in particular named ISRO veterans like A S Kiran Kumar (former ISRO chief).

"They have been helping so much, they were part of the team to help them (team) to get the confidence and get the reviews done, and to ensure that nothing goes with any mistakes," he said.

India on Wednesday scripted history as ISRO's ambitious third Moon mission Chandrayaan-3's Lander Module (LM) touched down on the lunar surface, making it only the fourth country to accomplish the feat, and the first to reach the uncharted south pole of Earth's only natural satellite.

The LM comprising the lander (Vikram) and the 26 kg rover (Pragyan) made the soft landing near the south polar region of the Moon this evening.

Noting that this is the work of a generation of ISRO's leadership and scientists, Somanath said, "This is the journey we started with Chandrayaan-1, continued in Chandrayaan-2 and Chandrayaan-2 craft is still working and doing a lot of communication work with us. All the team that contributed to building Chandrayaan-1 and 2 should be remembered and thanked, while we celebrate (the success of) Chandrayaan-3."

"This is an incremental progress and definitely a huge one," he added.

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