India’s Chandrayaan-3 lunar rover left the spacecraft on Thursday morning to begin exploring the lunar surface, the Indian space agency said on messaging platform X (formerly known as Twitter).

Days after the failure of the Russian Luna-25 spacecraft on Wednesday night, the spacecraft landed at the unexplored south pole of the moon, making India the first country to achieve the feat.

“Ch-3 rover descends from lander, India takes a walk on Moon!” Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) said in its message.

The budget of about Rs. 6.15 billion rupees ($74.58 million), this is India’s second attempt to land on the moon. The previous mission, Chandrayaan-2, in 2019, successfully deployed the orbiter, but its lander crashed.

Chandrayaan means “moon rover” in Hindi and Sanskrit.

The moon’s rugged south pole is coveted for its water ice, which is believed to provide fuel, oxygen and drinking water for future missions, but its rugged terrain makes landing challenging.

People across the country tuned in to Wednesday’s touchdown, with nearly 7 million people watching the YouTube livestream alone.

Prayers were also held in places of worship and the school organized live performances for students.

Chandrayaan-3 is expected to remain operational for two weeks, conducting experiments including spectrometer analysis of the mineral composition of the lunar surface.

© Thomson Reuters 2023

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