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Historic Indian Mission to Moon’s South Pole Enters Lunar Orbit

  • South Asian nation aiming to land on moon to explore surface
  • Mission scheduled to take 48 days before landing on Sept. 7

An Indian rocket carrying a rover to the moon’s south pole entered the lunar orbit on Tuesday, in a key milestone for a mission that may make the nation the first to reach the unexplored part of earth’s satellite.

Indian Space Research Organisation, the nation’s equivalent of NASA, remotely fired a liquid engine on board the unmanned vehicle at around 9:02 a.m. local time, inserting it into the moon’s orbit, according to a statement. The aim of the mission named ‘Chandrayaan-2’ -- Sanskrit for ‘moon vehicle’ -- is to explore virgin territory on the lunar surface and look for signs of water and helium-3, a waste-free source of nuclear energy.