In August 2023, just three days after a failed Russian attempt to land on the surface of the Moon, India’s Chandrayaan-3 made history by being the first spacecraft to successfully touched down near the lunar south pole. Chandrayaan-3 is the third in a series of lunar exploration missions developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation aimed at conducting a safe and soft landing on the lunar surface, successfully roving on the Moon and conducting in-situ scientific experiments.
This remarkable technological achievement puts India ahead in a fierce Asian space race centred on its rival China, leaving the country’s space industry poised to reap significant economic benefits and placing it at a significant strategic advantage to assert control over valuable lunar resources. Earning India its place in the ranks of world space superpowers, this success has the potential to reshape the balance of power in space exploration and may have opened a Pandora’s box of geopolitical and astropolitical implications for the world.
Dr Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan is the Director of the Centre for Security, Strategy and Technology at the Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi. She was the Technical Advisor to the United Nations Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on Prevention of Arms Race in Outer Space and was also a Non-Resident Indo-Pacific Fellow at the Perth USAsia Centre. As senior Asia defence writer for The Diplomat, she writes a weekly column on Asian strategic issues.
Michael Kugelman is Director of the South Asia Institute at the Wilson Centre. He is a leading specialist on Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan and their relations with the United States. He is a weekly columnist for Foreign Policy, writing its South Asia Brief newsletter and the editor/co-editor of eleven books covering topics from US policy in Afghanistan and the geopolitics of South Asia to water, energy, and food security in the region.
Dr. Christopher Newman is Professor of Space Law and Policy at Northumbria University, Newcastle. He is a teacher and researcher of space law and has published extensively on the legal and ethical underpinnings of space governance. He is a member of the International Institute of Space Law and of the British Interplanetary Society, has consulted on space law matters for commercial law firms and makes regular TV and radio appearances as an expert on space law and policy issues.