On Aug. 23, 2023, as Chandrayaan 3 accomplished a soft landing on the Moon, the country was a sea of rapture as India became only the fourth country to successfully do so. More importantly, India became the first country to reach the ‘dark side’ or the South Pole of the Moon.
Landing near the South Pole of the Moon, overcoming the arduous conditions, is a testament to the spirit of our scientists, who for centuries have sought to push the boundaries of human knowledge. Acknowledging the momentous feat, henceforth Aug. 23 will be celebrated as National Space Day in India. A fitting tribute indeed.
As I write this, the Vikram Lander and Pragyan Rover have both successfully completed their Mission objectives. Pragyan has traversed a distance of more than 100 metres on the surface of the Moon and Vikram’s on-board equipment has gathered significant information that will enhance our understanding of not just the Moon but also shed light on the environment in space.
In its last experiment before being put in sleep mode, Vikram successfully carried out a ‘hop’ manoeuvre, meaning that its thrusters fired it to a height of 40 centimetres and moved it to a new location on the Moon. A small jump today, but it paves the way for a “land-collect samples-return’ Mission in the future.
Symbol of rising New India
The knowledge that will come from the success of the Chandrayaan-3 mission will be used for the benefit and progress of humanity, especially the countries of the global south, in the spirit of our belief in the age old Indian ideal of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ or ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future’ which is also the theme of India’s G-20 Presidency.
Prime Minister Modi also announced that footprint of Chandrayaan-2 Tiranga Point and Chandrayaan-3’s landing spot on the Moon would be named as Tiranga Point and Shiv Shakti Point respectively. These names beautifully capture the essence of our past while embracing the spirit of modernity. These names are more than just titles. They establish a thread that intricately links our millennia-old heritage with our scientific ambitions.
India’s advancements in the space sector are more than just monumental scientific achievements. They represent a vision of progress, self-reliance, and global leadership. This is also a symbol of rising New India. These strides will create more opportunities across industries, from satellite communication and meteorology to agriculture and disaster management.
The success of Missions like Chandrayan-3, provides impetus to direct applications on the ground, enhancing our infrastructure, boosting our digital economy, and providing critical data to various sectors.
In the spirit of true friendship, the UAE leadership congratulated India and its people for the success of Chandrayaan 3. His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President of the UAE and rule of Dubai and His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE’s Foreign Minister sent heartfelt wishes on India’s achievement. The same day, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed also had a telephone call with Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulating the country.
Aug. 23 will also hold a special place for India-UAE partnership as well, as this was also the day when leaders at the BRICS Summit in Johannesburg announced that 6 nations, including the UAE were extended an invitation to join the BRICS family. Our countries have entered a new era of cooperation, one that benefits the world.
As if ordained by destiny, the day when both Pragyan and Vikram completed their Missions, UAE Astronaut Dr. Sultan Al Neyadi also reached the Earth after becoming the first Arab to complete 6 months in space.
As of today, we wait for the lunar night to pass and to hear from Vikram and Pragyan again, and to see the unseen. India, however, is already on the move from one achievement to the next, building on the sheer resolve of her people. It is a new dawn, the dawn of New India.
Sunjay Sudhir is the Ambassador of India to the UAE