India-Russia Lunar Race: Competing to Make History on the Moon

2023-08-20 08:29:48
India is in a race with Russia to become the first country to land a spacecraft on an unexplored region of the far side of the moon, a feat that will cement its status as a major space power amid renewed global interest in lunar exploration. This comes at a time when a growing list of countries, including the United States, China, Israel and Japan, are hoping to establish themselves on the nearest celestial body to Earth, according to the Wall Street Journal. This week, two spacecraft from Russia and India are scheduled to touch down on the moon’s unexplored south pole, the latest in an international convoy of robotic spacecraft that have headed to the moon in recent years. This will be followed by the launch of a small spacecraft to the Moon by the Japanese Space Agency in an effort to test precise landing techniques that could be used in future missions. Private companies from Israel and Japan have tried and failed to send spacecraft in recent years. Meanwhile, China has landed in 2019 and again in 2020 and seeks to send astronauts there by 2030. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is working on its own lunar campaign through the “Artemis” program, which aims to To build infrastructure on and around the moon in the long term. It plans to launch a human space flight around the moon in late 2024. Indo-Russian competition India launched a robotic spacecraft carrying a lander and rover last July. The Chandrayaan-3 mission, which means “moon vehicle” in Hindi, is India’s second attempt to land on the moon. And the Indian Space Agency announced that the landing attempt is scheduled to coincide, next Wednesday, August 23, with sunrise at the landing site. And if the lander can land safely, it will be a moment of intense national pride. After the launch, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, “Chandrayaan-3 writes a new chapter in the Indian space saga.” “An abnormal situation” But Russia may get there first, as the country launched the “Luna-25” lander on August 11, its first mission to the moon in nearly 50 years, and is looking forward to landing, Monday, August 21st, in the same difficult area. For Moscow, returning to the moon may be a sign of its continued technological prowess in the face of sweeping global sanctions imposed in the wake of last year’s invasion of Ukraine. And “Luna-25” entered the lunar orbit, last Wednesday, the first Russian spacecraft to achieve this since 1976. However, the Russian space agency “Roskosmos” reported, on Saturday, that an “abnormal situation” had occurred in the Russian spacecraft “Luna-25”. during a maneuver as it prepared to move into a pre-landing orbit. The agency said that “during the operation, an emergency occurred on the space probe, which did not allow it to carry out the maneuver according to the required standards,” without providing further details. The newspaper pointed out that India’s travel time to the moon is about 40 days longer than Russia’s travel time due to the heavy load of its vehicle and limited fuel storage compared to its Russian counterpart. And India sent its spacecraft on a circular path around the Earth and the Moon, to take advantage of gravity and save on fuel. Lunar exploration camps The Washington Post indicated that the Indian and Russian lunar exploration missions are part of a flurry of lunar activities expected in the coming years, as space exploration is increasingly divided into two camps. India and several other countries have signed up to the US-backed Principles for Space Exploration, while Russia plans to work with China on its plans to establish a research station on the moon. US law prohibits NASA from cooperating with China in space exploration. The newspaper quoted David Alexander, a professor of physics and astronomy at Rice University and director of its Space Institute: “The moon has returned to everyone’s agenda as a site for a sustainable human presence in space, and as a testing ground for future missions.” Alexander explained that the moon’s south pole, in particular, is an area of ​​keen interest for astronomers, due to the presence of water ice in the craters, which may help support a human settlement in the future. NASA said in 2018 that its portable instruments on India’s first lunar mission helped confirm the presence of ice. A new ‘Cold War’ The Moon may be a barren dead body, but it is now one of the hottest spots in the solar system, attracting the interest of several countries around the world, eager to show off their technological prowess and help humanity understand our nearest celestial neighbour. According to the “Washington Post”, this race to the moon brings to mind the Cold War rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union, although it is very different in scope and purpose, and with many other competitors. For now, the goal is not to prove the superiority of one political system over another, but to race to an actual location, the south pole of the Moon, where water exists as ice in perpetually dark craters. A pivotal element The presence of water has implications for the major space powers, as this could potentially allow humans to extend the temporary stay of humans on the moon, enabling them to extract the resources on the moon. Being able to access this ice is vital for any human settlement, not only because water is the key to sustaining life, but because its components, hydrogen and oxygen, can be used as rocket fuel, making the moon a gas station in space and a launching pad for other parts of the solar system. . The “Washington Post” quoted the former head of NASA’s Scientific Mission Directorate, Thomas Zurbuchen, as saying that with the United States developing the “Artemis” strategy, “we made the moon an important part of the strategy, and by doing so, I think the whole world listened.” . He added, “What you’re really seeing is that the lunar environment has become a destination and a national necessity for many countries. I’m not surprised that there is such interest.” And NASA estimated that over the next decade, human activity on and near the moon “will equal or exceed everything that has occurred in this region since the beginning of the space age in 1957,” according to a statement issued late last year by the White House, which developed a plan to coordinate Scientific efforts around the moon. Also read:

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