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India launches craft to land on moon’s south pole

The Indiaan space agency has launched a rocket, sending a spacecraft into orbit and toward a planned landing next month on the lunar south pole.

The launch, which occurred earlier on Friday,is being seen as an unprecedented feat that would advance India’s position as a major space power.

Reuters reports that the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) LVM3 launch rocket blasted off from the country’s main spaceport in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh on Friday afternoon, leaving behind a plume of smoke and fire.

About 16 minutes later, ISRO’s mission control announced that the rocket had succeeded in putting the Chandrayaan-3 lander into an Earth orbit that will send it looping toward a moon landing next month.

If the mission succeeds, India would join a group of three other countries that have managed a controlled lunar landing, including the United States, the former Soviet Union and China.