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Indian bishops over the moon with lunar mission

Costing nearly $77 million, Chandrayaan-3 landed Aug. 23 on the lunar South Polar, a region with frozen water
People celebrate the successful lunar landing of the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft on the south pole of the Moon, in New Delhi on Aug 23. India became the first nation to successfully land a craft on the Moon's south pole, the latest milestone in a renewed push for lunar exploration that has drawn in both the world's top space powers and new players

People celebrate the successful lunar landing of the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft on the south pole of the Moon, in New Delhi on Aug 23. India became the first nation to successfully land a craft on the Moon's south pole, the latest milestone in a renewed push for lunar exploration that has drawn in both the world's top space powers and new players. (Photo: AFP)

Published: August 24, 2023 10:51 AM GMT
Updated: August 25, 2023 10:25 AM GMT

Catholic bishops have lauded scientists and technicians of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) for the successful landing of Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft on the lunar surface on Aug. 23, a month after its launch.

“The progress made by our scientists and engineers in the field of space research is truly commendable and fills our hearts with pride,” said the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) in a statement on Aug. 23.

Archbishop Andrews Thazhath, the conference president said that the efforts of ISRO and the entire team behind the project serve as an inspiration to the entire nation.

"The pursuit of knowledge and exploration knows no boundaries and brings together people from all walks of life, reflecting the unity in diversity that India represents,” he added.

There was excitement in India over the planned spacecraft landing with prayers at temples, mosques and churches.

“We offer our prayers for the continued success of ISRO's endeavors and for the well-being of our great nation. May this achievement serve as a reminder of what we can accomplish when we come together with a shared vision,” the prelate said.

Some enthusiasts held parties to celebrate the landing of spacecraft on the lunar South Polar, a region with frozen water that could be a source of oxygen, fuel and water for future moon missions. 

“The entire country is jubilant at the successful landing of Chandrayaan-3. It is indeed a stupendous feat achieved by the long and sustained efforts of the scientific community in India,” said an upbeat Divine Word Father Babu Joseph.

“It is also an occasion to gratefully remember those who laid the scientific foundation decades ago and each successive generation of scientists and technocrats whose vision and hard work have brought it to the present fruition,” added Father Joseph, based in India’s capital New Delhi.

Launched on Oct. 22, 2008, Chandrayaan-1 was India's first mission to the moon.  It released a Moon Impact Probe on Nov. 14 that year and crashed into the moon later that day. The mission was known for finding evidence of water ice on the moon.

Chandrayaan literally means journey to the moon in Sanskrit. It is India's third lunar exploration mission  

The second mission was declared a failure after its lander crashed and deviated from its intended trajectory while attempting to land in September 2019.

“This successful lunar mission is an eloquent testimony to its resilient scientific pursuit and determination to achieve self-reliance in science and technology,” Father Joseph, a former spokesperson of the bishops' conference, added.

“The mission could cement India's status as a global superpower in space,” Father Joseph observed.

Costing nearly US$ 77 million, Chandrayaan-3 has three objectives: to land safely on the surface, to demonstrate rover operations and to perform experiments, according to ISRO.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi lauded the scientists for the rare feat just ahead of national elections next year.

His government is looking to spur investment in satellite-based businesses. The global space market is pegged at $447 billion and India is looking forward to hiking its market share from the current 5 percent. 

India is planning to launch a mission to a solar observatory and put a man on the moon.

“India will remember this day forever,” Modi said after virtually witnessing the landing from South Africa where he is attending a special summit of the BRICS, comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.

“New history has been written,” Modi said.

Rahul Gandhi, a parliamentarian and leader of the main opposition Congress Party, said “Chandrayaan-3’s soft landing on the lunar South Pole is the result of decades of tremendous ingenuity and hard work.”

The ISRO hailed the special role played by women, saying, “Over 100 women staff have played a direct significant role in conceptualizing, designing,  testing and executing the spacecraft.”

In June 2023, before the scheduled Chandrayaan-3 launch on July 14, India inked a pact with NASA-led Artemis Accords aiming for peaceful human and robotic exploration of the moon. 

NASA administrator Bill Nelson told Reuters on Aug. 23 that the US space agency was "looking forward" to what could be learned from Chandrayaan-3.

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DR.CAJETAN COELHO
Hearty congratulations.
Asian Bishops
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