A Moon Landing Goes South

September 16, 2019
Image Credit: ISRO

Earlier this month, India attempted to become the fourth country to land a lunar space rover on the moon. While it did not happen (communication with the rover was lost minutes from the anticipated landing), what the Chandrayaan-2 was able to do was still a spectacular achievement. Why? It had attempted to land on the ”dark” or far side of the moon and only one other country (China) has ever done that before. Furthermore, India’s Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) was able to execute the mission with a tight budget. What’s this “tight” budget, you might be wondering? Approximately $150 million. That might seem like a lot of money, but if you compare this budget with that of a Hollywood blockbuster movie (the budget for Avengers: Endgame was $356 million) or other space missions, that’s not a very big budget at all—not when it comes to space missions at least!

Image Credit: ISRO

What happens now? Part of the moon lander will still be in operation and orbiting the moon to capture important information to send back to Earth, but unfortunately there will be no exploration of the south pole of the moon. The missed landing may have been disappointing for the ISRO, but it has accomplished a lot in the last few years and its reputation of being a low cost and dependable space powerhouse has only grown since it became the first space program in the Asia region to reach Mars in 2014. The ISRO also launched a record 104 satellites in one mission in 2017. Not too shabby, right? We’ll definitely be keeping a close eye on ISRO and their future space advances and discoveries!

Interesting Fact: Only three countries have ever successfully landed a lunar space rover on the moon: The United States, the Soviet Union, and China.