In the news they say that

Israel hoped to become the fourth country to land a spacecraft on the Moon. Only government space agencies from the former Soviet Union, the US and China have made successful Moon landings.

E.g. Haaretz, BBC

Why don't they mention the Indian Chandrayaan-1?

The BBC article that I quote here even provides a picture from NASA with the list of successful moon landings that includes a station from India.

Another question: why do they call it low cost? According to the same BBC article,

The project has cost about $100m (£76m) and has paved the way for future low-cost lunar exploration.

Wikipedia says that the cost of the Chandrayaan-1 project was US$54 million.

Disclaimer: I am not an Indian.

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ It's a good point you make. Presumably they are talking about soft landers, not impactors, though. $\endgroup$ Apr 12, 2019 at 3:46
  • 8
    $\begingroup$ Note that the Israeli attempt is not being counted as a "landing". This implies that crashes are not counted. $\endgroup$
    – Ben Voigt
    Apr 12, 2019 at 6:33
  • 9
    $\begingroup$ and Ben Voigt's point is exactly why the indian mission is not counted here $\endgroup$
    – Hobbamok
    Apr 12, 2019 at 9:30
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ If you're going to count crashes as landings, Japan beat both India and China with the two Hiten craft. The ESA also crashed an impactor before India. Here's a list. $\endgroup$ Apr 12, 2019 at 12:49
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    $\begingroup$ ^^^ and in fact, the guys in the control room said after the crash, "well, it makes us the seventh nation to put an object on the Moon, then". @DarrelHoffman $\endgroup$
    – Will Ness
    Apr 12, 2019 at 16:17

1 Answer 1


Chandrayaan-1 hit the Moon at high speed and did not survive its "landing", which would have been much more difficult to engineer. (Its successor, Chandrayaan-2, which will actually land, is expected to cost \$125 million and has taken more than ten years so far, as opposed to the three years for Chandrayaan-1.)

As far as cost goes, besides India's own (still unlaunched) soft lander that costs \$25 million more than Israel's attempt, compare the costs of the US Surveyor program. NASA spent \$469 million in the mid 1960s to launch seven probes, five of which successfully landed. Most of that money went to developing the technology needed for all the probes to work, and each probe cost a small fraction of that to actually build. Adjusting that amount for inflation, you get almost \$3.8 billion in 2019 dollars. So if we had to start from 1960s technology and launch a new probe to land on the Moon, the cost would probably be somewhere around there. One might discount it by a few hundred million for the five extra probes, but that's still easily at least thirty times the pricetag on Israel's project.


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