Welcome to Power Maps from Tag The Flag where we zoom out to provide unique insights about our country and the world. These graphical representations are meant to help us make sense of our surroundings and visualize themes, trends, and topics in our borders and beyond.
🗺️ POWER MAP
What’s Happening: India’s attempt to become the first country to land a robotic mission at the Moon’s south pole has failed, after engineers lost contact with the Vikram lander — part of the Chandrayaan-2 probe. Scientists at the Indian Space Research Organisation lost signal from the lander as it hovered over the surface, moments away from what would have been a successful soft-landing. [Vanessa Romo / NPR]
Background: India’s journey to the moon started in 2008 when it sent its first moon mission, Chandrayaan-1, to orbit the moon and seek proof of water on the surface, which it found. Its successor, Chandrayaan-2—the word means moon chariot—took off from India’s east coast in July and has since been orbiting first the earth and then the moon, using gravity to minimize the amount of fuel needed. [Eric Bellman / Wall Street Journal]
Why it matters: If the mission was successful, India would have become the fourth country to successfully land a spacecraft on the moon and the first to land on the moon’s the South Pole. [Jennifer Lehman / Popular Mechanics]
Big Picture: The moon is all the rage these days. China wants to send people there. So too does the United States and NASA. In fact, just about every country with a space program has some sort of lunar ambition that it hopes will play out over the next few years. [Ashlee Lance / Bloomberg]
With that said: Only seven nations (or political unions) have been to or orbited the moon so far as part of a successful or semi-successful mission – and the runner-up doesn’t even exist anymore. This is the tally of moon missions long after the first race for space that saw the U.S. and the USSR square off in the 1950s, 60s and 70s and at the recent beginning of the new era of moon missions that included the participation of new national actors. Israel is the sole country which can look back only on failed missions to the moon. Their single moon mission, carried out by nonprofit SpaceIL, crash-landed on the moon in February 2019. Between 1976 and 1990, no moon missions were carried out by any nation. [Katharina Buchholz / Statista]