India is about to land Chandrayaan 2 on the south pole of the moon (Image: ISRO Twitter)
Former NASA astronaut Jerry M Linenger, who is in the country to promote a special program on India's space mission Chandrayaan-2, featuring him as space analyst, said that the landing Chandrayaan-2 on the south pole of the moon is a milestone for the entire world and not just India.
"The south pole of the moon is a fantastic region to explore. The entire planet will benefit from the mission. This is not just a milestone for India but the entire world," Linenger told news agency ANI.
"India is about to land Chandrayaan 2 on the south pole of the moon. There are great challenges since no one has ever been there before but the Vikram lander onboard the spacecraft is also very capable," he said.
Linenger said the most important task for the mission will be to explore whether there is water on the natural satellite.
"The Chandrayaan-2 has already carried out some difficult tasks like de-orbiting but landing on the surface of the moon will be the toughest part. There is a possibility of tumbling if the landing spot is slanted. I will definitely be on the edge of my seat," he said.
Linenger had gone on the space shuttle and spent five months on the Russian space station "MIR".
"I am here to celebrate this great accomplishment with the people of India. During our live show, I am going to be trying to give people some insight into the mission from my own experience. I am very excited. I am keeping my fingers crossed that everything goes well," he said.
"No matter the outcome, it will be a success, not only for India but the planet," he added.
The mood in ISRO ahead of Saturday's highly crucial event of the Chandrayaan-2 mission is pretty much tensed. Nervous and anxious for sure but the city-headquartered space agency is cautiously optimistic of "Vikram" module's soft-landing on the Lunar surface planned in the early hours of Saturday.
"Everybody is tight-lipped. I am also tight lipped. Let the event be over", a senior official associated with the mission said on Thursday. "Every body's mind is only on what's happening in the (Chandrayaan-2) spacecraft and lander ('Vikram'). Let's all pray for the successful soft-landing," the official said.
Chairman of ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) K Sivan recently said the space agency "had done everything humanly possible" for the mission's success. Top space scientists have also expressed confidence about the success of the ambitious venture.
"It's going to be a remarkable event (soft-landing) and we are all looking forward to it. I am sure it will be a 100 percent success", former ISRO Chairman G Madhavan Nair, who spearheaded the Chandrayaan-1 mission more than a decade ago, told PTI.
Another former ISRO Chairman, A S Kiran Kumar, described the proposed soft-landing as one of the very critical operations. "So far, whatever has been done in comparison to that now we are entering the most critical phase, and up to now, all things have gone as per the plan and expectation is every thing will go as per the plan", Kiran Kumar told PTI.