- India’s mission to the moon, Chandrayaan-2, is set to make a soft landing on the moon on Friday.
- If successful India will become only the fourth country to make a successful landing on the moon, joining the US, China, and Russia.
- The Chandrayaan-2, which means “moon-vehicle” in Sanskrit, has been completed on a relatively low budget compared to many space missions, costing around $140 million.
- India faced criticism for its activities in space earlier in 2019, after it shot down a satellite, creating millions of pieces of space debris.
- NASA called the incident “unacceptable,” saying the debris could threaten astronauts on the International Space Station.
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India’s mission to the moon, Chandrayaan-2, is due to touch down on the lunar surface in a soft landing Friday, making India just the fourth country to make a successful soft landing on the moon.
The Chandrayaan-2, which means “moon-vehicle” in Sanskrit, will make a soft landing – which is characterized by landing with no damage or destruction to the landing – at some point Friday, if the mission is a success. In doing so it will join the US, China, and the Soviet Union in making a soft landing.
Japan, Israel, and the European Space Agency have also made landings on the moon, but they have resulted in damage to the landing craft.
India’s mission has been completed on a relatively low budget compared to many space missions. According to Indian business news website Business Today the entire mission cost the Indian government the equivalent of just $142 milion. The BBC cites a figure of $145 million.
CNN reported that the mission’s total cost is less than half that of the budget for 2019’s Marvel blockbuster “Avengers: Endgame” which had an overall budget of $356 million.
In total, India’s space agency, the Indian Space Research Organisation has a budget of $1.8 billion this year, according to the Washington Post, which added that NASA’s funding in 2019 is around $21.5 billion.
Dr Chaitanya Giri, a fellow at Indian think tank Gateway House told CNN that the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has managed to reduce its costs by utilizing in-house talent, shortening missions to just a few years and making use of space infrastructure previously put in place by the US.
The mission, if it goes to plan, will see a separate lander spacecraft, known as Vikram, land on the southern side of the moon, the ISRO said.
It will land around 375 kilometers from its South Pole, according to a report from Space.com. Space.com’s report said that the landing site could become “one of the most important places on the moon’s surface.”
“This mission has proved beyond doubt, once again, that when it comes to attempting an endeavor in new age, cutting edge areas, with innovative zeal, our scientists are second to none,” India’s Prime Minister Narenda Modi said after the craft was launched in July, CNN reported.
“They are the best … they are world class,” Modi said.
In March, the ISRO sparked serious criticism from NASA when it intentionally destroyed a satellite with a missile.
The satellite shattered to pieces, leaving debris large enough to pose a danger to the space station but not large enough to track, according to a report by Business Insider.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said the move was “unacceptable” and caused a threat to astronauts on board the International Space Station (ISS).