India’s Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft blasted off for the country’s historic Moon mission on Friday, at 2.35pm (1.05pm, UAE time ).
“This remarkable mission will carry the hopes and dreams of our nation,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted earlier.
The rocket will attempt to land a robotic rover on the Moon’s south pole, an area of special interest for space agencies and private space companies because of the presence of water ice that could support a future space station. This will be a first for space exploration.
The Chandrayan-3 launch rocket will be blasting the spacecraft into an elliptical Earth orbit before it loops toward the moon for a scheduled landing around August 23.
If the mission succeeds, India would join a group of three other countries that have managed a controlled lunar landing, including the US, the former Soviet Union, and China.
Chandrayaan, which means “moon vehicle” in Sanskrit, includes a two metres (6.6 feet) tall lander designed to deploy a rover near the lunar south pole, where it is expected to remain functional for two weeks running a series of experiments.
Watch the liftoff live here:
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.
Since 2020, when India opened to private launches, the number of space startups has more than doubled. Late last year, Skyroot Aerospace, whose investors include Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC, launched India’s first privately built rocket.