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City erupts in cheers when Chandrayaan-3 lands on southern polar region of the moon

Schools, museum, homes, mall... all eyes on screen

Debraj Mitra, Jhinuk Mazumdar | Published 24.08.23, 05:29 AM
Students of Rammohan Mission High School celebrate on their campus the Chandrayaan-3 moon landing on Wednesday evening

Students of Rammohan Mission High School celebrate on their campus the Chandrayaan-3 moon landing on Wednesday evening

Picture by Sanat Kr Sinha

Two students did a high-five. Tricolours came out. A scientist said the milestone was a perfect example of learning from mistakes. Some kept doing namaskars and thanking God.

The city erupted in cheers when the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft landed on the southern polar region of the moon, minutes after 6pm on Wednesday.


The build-up started shortly after 5.20pm, when the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) started live streaming the landing.

Auditoriums in museums and schools, drawing rooms, and even the atrium of a mall buzzed and screens big and small showed the lander’s
descent. Pedestrians and passengers brought their phones out.

The Birla Industrial and Technological Museum (BITM) in Ballygunge had more than 1,500 viewers. Four giant screens had been set up in different areas of the museum. The viewers included students from schools and general visitors who had come to witness “history”.

A model of the lander and a power-point presentation explaining the science of the landing drew many people.

As the lander touched the lunar surface, a roar ripped across the compound.

“India is on the moon,” proclaimed Isro director S. Somanath.

Out came miniature versions of the Tricolour, accompanied by Jai Hind slogans.

“It is a milestone moment. But it is also a perfect example of learning from past mistakes of Chandrayaan-2. This time, the mission was designed in such a way that there was almost zero room for failure. Every possible failure — sensors, camera, propellant system or anything else — was taken into account and there was a Plan B for everything. The basic premise was that anything could fail,” said Subhabrata Chaudhuri, director of BITM.

Despite the landing being in the evening, much after the school bell rang for the day, students came back to watch it on their campuses. Many of them were accompanied by their parents.

Class XII student Sinchan Mitra and his group of friends from Rammohan Mission High School made a model of Chandrayaan-3 and exhibited it during the screening.

“We made it of cardboard with the parts fitting in like a jigsaw puzzle. We demonstrated it to juniors,” said the science student.

There was pin-drop silence in the final few moments of the landing.

At Techno India Group Public School, Garia, students had questions. The most asked one — “How is it possible to calculate the exact time of the landing?”

At Kanaknagar SD Institution in Hingalganj, North 24 Parganas, guardians shared space with their children to catch a glimpse of the landing.

A third-year student at the Heritage Institute of Technology, Sampurna Ghosh, completed her class at 5.30pm to be at the college auditorium for the final countdown.

“It ended in high-fives among us. We were really proud that the mission was successful,” said the student of applied electronics and instrumentation engineering.

Some Kolkatans said they missed a clear view of the final minutes of the precision landing as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s face took up an equal space on the screen.

“I was watching it on my phone. The PM’s face occupied half the screen,” said a resident of Lake Town.

Modi joined in from South Africa, where he is on an official visit. “It is the dawn of a new era,” the Prime Minister said.

At South City Mall, a giant screen showed the landing. By 5.45pm, the atrium was packed. Many people crowded along the railings of the floors above to get a good view. Some of them were store employees as well.

Throughout the descent, many hands were pressed against the chests and lips kept murmuring prayers.
People brought their phones out as the moment of landing inched closer. Many of the viewers were doing namaskars after the landing.

Last updated on 24.08.23, 12:11 PM

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