August 23, 2023
Around 6:00 p.m. in India, when millions were arriving home from work and getting ready for dinner, the nation’s top scientists and engineers closely watched a large screen at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), waiting to see if they would be part of history.
As the lander from the country’s Chandrayaan-3 mission to the moon gently touched the lunar surface, the room erupted in laughter, cheers, and applause. Elated and emotional, scientists shook hands and embraced as India Prime Minister Narendra Modi waved a miniature Indian flag on the televised screen in front of them.
“We have achieved a soft landing on the moon,” S. Somanath, the chair of ISRO, declared. “India is on the moon!”
India had become the fourth country — after the U.S., Russia, and China — to land on the moon and the first to land on the lunar south pole. But more than just a moon landing, the historic moment also made it clear that India is a force to be reckoned with on the global stage.