India’s Space Agency Makes History with Rocket Launch to the Moon’s South Pole

By Sophia Francise

July 14, 2023

On Friday, July 14, India officiated its race to become the fourth country worldwide to land on the moon with the launch of its Chandrayaan-3 mission.

The mission, which was overseen by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), successfully is aiming to land a spacecraft at the lunar south pole on August 23.

This ambitious endeavor, if successful, will rank India with the United States, Russia, and China, which have had successful moon landings previously.

On Friday afternoon, the Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO) LVM3 launch rocket lifted off from the country’s primary spaceport in Sriharikota, in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.

The rocket lifted up from India’s main spaceport at 2.35 p.m. local time (0905 GMT), with over 1.4 million viewers watching the launch on ISRO’s YouTube channel.

The mission’s success in putting the Chandrayaan-3 lander into an Earth orbit was announced roughly 16 minutes later by ISRO’s mission control.

“Congratulations India. Chandrayaan-3 has started its journey towards the moon,” ISRO Director Sreedhara Panicker Somanath said shortly after the launch.

India’s Mission for the South Pole

Chandrayaan-3 is a follow-up mission to Chandrayaan-2, India’s previous failed effort to land a robotic spacecraft near the moon’s little-explored south pole in 2019. 

The mission entered lunar orbit but lost contact with its lander, which crashed during descent to deploy a rover for water search. 

A software glitch caused the crash, according to a failure analysis report submitted to ISRO.


The $140 million mission in 2019 was designed to investigate permanently shadowed moon craters known to have water deposits, as proven by India’s Chandrayaan-1 mission in 2008.

According to the junior minister for Science and Technology, Dr. Jitendra Singh, the current spacecraft is a six-wheeled lander and rover module and is configured with payloads that would provide data to the scientific community on the properties of lunar soil and rocks, including chemical and elemental compositions. 

ISRO plans to conduct science experiments on the lunar surface, with instruments like Chandra’s Surface Thermophysical Experiment (ChaSTE) and ILSA measuring lunar seismic activity.[1]

The launch is India’s first major mission since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government announced policies to spur investment in space launches and related satellite-based businesses.

India also joined forces with the US, where they agreed to a joint mission to the International Space Station in 2024

ISRO is also developing its own Gaganyaan spacecraft, solidifying India’s global space presence.

India’s space program, active since the 1960s, has launched 424 satellites for 34 countries, including Israel, the UAE, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany

The space sector could become a trillion-dollar economy in the coming years, with ISRO earning approximately 1.1 billion rupees ($13.4 million) from foreign satellite launches in the past five years.


  1. ISRO, ‘Chandrayaan-3 Details’, 14 July 2023,[]