Moon’s South Pole Race, India or Russia?

India released images today via it’s space agency. They are pictures from Chandrayaan-3 space craft as it approaches the Moon’s South pole. And they’re racing against Russia who is also trying to be the first to land in this previously unexplored area of the Moon.

Russia launched its first moon-landing spacecraft in 47 years on Aug 11, taking a more direct course to reach the moon’s south pole where scientists have detected water ice that could be used for fuel, oxygen and drinking water for future moon missions or a lunar colony.

Russia’s moon mission is on track to land the Luna-25 on Aug 21, two days before India’s spacecraft.source

Much is riding on the success of Russia’s first lunar mission in 47 years, with Moscow attempting to prove that it is still a leader in space exploration despite the huge costs of the war in Ukraine and Western sanctions aimed at curbing its access to technology.source

Where is the USA in all this? Behind.

“Apr 15, 2019 – NASA is working right now to send American astronauts to the surface of the Moon in five years, and the agency has its sights set on a place no humans have ever gone before: the lunar South Pole.” source

Moon’s South Pole in NASA’s Landing Sites

In this multi-temporal illumination map of the lunar south pole, Shackleton crater (19 km diameter) is in the center, the south
In this multi-temporal illumination map of the lunar south pole, Shackleton crater (19 km diameter) is in the center, the south pole is located approximately at 9 o’clock on its rim. The map was created from images from the camera aboard the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. Credits: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

” How much water is on the Moon? Based on remote observations by radar instruments aboard Chandrayaan-1 and LRO, the lunar poles have over 600 billion kilograms of water ice. That’s enough to fill at least 240,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Aug 6, 2022″ source

So a new lunar race is on and the USA and China are not in it… it’s Russia -vs- India. Does it matter who gets there first?

The so-called race between Luna-25 and Chandrayaan-3 encapsulates a new era of lunar exploration, in which nations including the US, Israel, and China, as well as private companies, are targeting the Moon with spacecraft and forthcoming crewed missions. For many, it’s just friendly competition. And yet, a fresh chapter of human exploration is at stake. The small steps taken by individual landers and crewed missions could add up to giant leaps in conquering the Solar System in the coming decades and centuries. Who gets there first really could matter.source

Watch this space 🙂 pun intended.

Aug. 20, 2023 Update:

Russia’s first moon mission in 47 years failed after its Luna-25 space craft spun out of control and smashed into moon. Russia’s state space corporation, Roskosmos, said it had lost contact with the craft shortly after a problem occurred as the craft was shunted into pre-landing orbit on Saturday. ‘The apparatus moved into an unpredictable orbit and ceased to exist as a result of a collision with the surface of the Moon,’ Roskosmos said in a statement.

Aug. 28, Update:

Too cool not to include. SOURCE (go there for supersize)