Chandrayaan-3 team wins US space exploration award

India’s Chandrayaan-3 mission team has won the US Space Foundation’s prestigious 2024 John L. ‘Jack’ Swigert Jr. Award for Space Exploration acknowledging their exceptional contribution to advancing the frontiers of space exploration.

The award was accepted by D C Manjunath, India’s Consul General in Houston, at the opening ceremony of the yearly Space Symposium in Colorado, on behalf of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), on April 8.

The Chandrayaan-3 mission, developed by ISRO, holds the distinction of being the first to land on the South Pole of the Moon. The achievement has expanded humanity’s space exploration ambitions to unexplored territories, facilitating greater understanding and collaboration.

The Space Foundation lauded India’s leadership in space exploration as inspiring to the international community. It also commended the Chandrayaan-3 team for setting new standards in space exploration.

The award aims to honor outstanding achievements by a company, space agency, or consortium of organizations in the field of space exploration and discovery.

The award memorializes astronaut John L. “Jack” Swigert Jr., one of the inspirations for the creation of the Space Foundation. A Colorado native, Swigert served with retired US Navy Captain James A. Lovell Jr. and Fred Haise on the legendary Apollo 13 lunar mission, which was aborted after the perilous rupture of an oxygen tank while en route to the Moon.

People around the world watched as NASA overcame tremendous odds and returned the crew safely to Earth. In that spirit of accomplishment, the Jack Swigert Award is presented annually at the Space Symposium by the Space Foundation.

“India’s leadership in space is an inspiration to the world,” Space Foundation CEO Heather Pringle stated. “The pioneering work of the entire Chandrayaan-3 team has again raised the bar for space exploration, and their remarkable lunar landing is a model to us all. Congratulations and we can’t wait to see what you do next!”

The Chandrayaan-3 mission has made India the fourth nation to acquire the technology for soft landing on the lunar surface, following the US, China, and the former Soviet Union. The mission which consists of the Vikram lander and the Pragyan rover, landed on the lunar south pole on August 23, a feat that has gone down in history.

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