Durban - President Cyril Ramaphosa congratulated Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the success of the Chandrayaan-3 mission on the moon, saying it was an opportunity for all developing countries to celebrate, and that pushing forward the frontiers of scientific endeavour was integral to human progress.
The landing of the lunar module on Wednesday by India’s space agency Isro (Indian Space Research Organisation) is not only a landmark achievement for the country's space programme, but humanity's efforts in space exploration.
Experts believe that the Moon’s south pole craters contain water ice and could support a future base there.
Speaking at a dinner event on Wednesday, Ramaphosa quoted Indian Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore: "We are in a palace which has no end, but which we have reached. By exploring it and extending our relationship with it, we are ever making it more and more our own.
"This and many other achievements enable us to move forward to prosperity, to progress and to peace," he said.
"Tonight is a night when we have even more reason to celebrate as BRICS partners. A few hours ago this afternoon, India made history as the first country to successfully land a lunar module on the south pole of the Moon.
"We congratulate Prime Minister Modi, the government and people of India and the Indian Space Research Organisation on the success of the Chandrayaan-3 mission," Ramaphosa said.
"In anticipation of this great achievement, Prime Minister Modi proposed at our BRICS Summit this afternoon that BRICS should set up a Space Exploration Commission where, as BRICS countries, we can share knowledge and experiences. The more we learn about this world we live in and beyond, the greater our capacity to improve it and to elevate the human condition," the president said.
Modi on Thursday, speaking at the announcement of the outcomes of the summit, said the moon landing was a matter of great pride for the nations, especially for Indian scientists who had been applauded across the globe.
“Last evening India’s Chandrayaan-3 successfully made a soft landing on the south pole of the moon.
“This is a great achievement, not only for India but also for the scientific community all over the world, as the area which was identified as a target by India has very difficult terrain.”
Modi said that on this very auspicious occasion the country and Indian scientists and greater scientific community had received congratulatory messages, and the country was grateful for these.
With BRICS proposing a ministry for women, India also highlighted the significant role that 54 women had played in Isro and in heading projects behind the successful landing.
They include Ritu Karidhal Srivastava, the director of the mission, and N Valarmathi, the project director of Indigenous Radar Imaging Satellite mission, India's first indigenously developed radar imaging satellite.