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Russia’s Moon Crash ‘Raises the Stakes’ for India’s Successful Landing

India’s lunar lander is working “perfectly,” the head of India’s space agency said Monday, just days after Russia crashed its spacecraft into the moon.

The Chandrayaan-3 lander is scheduled to land on the moon on Wednesday with no contingencies expected, Indian Space Research Organization Chair S. Somanath said in a statement.

Now, experts say New Delhi has a huge opportunity to cement its space prowess.

“It raises the stakes of success. India has always been viewed by the world as a junior spacefaring state,” said Peter Garretson, a senior fellow in defense studies at the American Foreign Policy Council and a former Defense Department official. “If India can succeed where Russia has failed, it signals a new pecking order in space.”

After a surprise launch by Russia’s space agency in early August to beat India’s Chandrayaan-3 lander to the lunar south pole — Moscow’s first lunar mission in nearly half a century — the spacecraft plunged into the moon’s surface after its pre-landing maneuvers malfunctioned.

Both countries aimed for the region because of its potential supply of water, which could provide the building blocks for breathable oxygen, drinking water and even rocket fuel for spacefaring nations with bases on the south pole.

There’s no guarantee of such resources on the surface. But back on Earth, New Delhi could reap different rewards.

“It will signal an arrival of sorts on the global stage and change the perception of India … ‘looking up’ to Russian achievements and technological know-how,” Garretson said. “If successful, the leadership order has flipped.”

Boosting India’s space program has been a priority for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and the landing will “script a new history of planetary exploration” if successful, Indian politician Jitendra Singh said in a statement.

In July, India became the 26th country to sign on to NASA’s Artemis Accords, Washington’s preferred principles for space exploration as more countries aim for the cosmos.

Source : Politico