India has become the fourth country to successfully land on the moon after its Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft successfully touched down on the south side of the lunar surface.

The nation was making its second attempt in four years to achieve a feat previously only accomplished by the Soviet Union, the United States and China, and become the first to land near the south pole.

The rover will roam on the surface of the planet and send data back to earth.

India unexpectedly got into a race with Russia, which had planned to land its Luna-25 spacecraft in the same region on Monday.

But Luna-25 crashed into the Moon after it spun into an uncontrolled orbit.

It would have been the first successful Russian lunar landing after a gap of 47 years.

The Indian mission was more successful, with Chandrayaan-3 touching down on Wednesday afternoon UK time.

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The craft landed near the Moon’s south pole – uncharted territory that scientists believe could hold important reserves of frozen water and precious elements.

If water ice exists in sufficient quantities, it could be a source of drinking water for moon exploration and could help cool equipment.

It could also be broken down to produce hydrogen for fuel and oxygen to breathe, supporting missions to Mars or lunar mining.

The USSR was the first nation to achieve a a soft landing (i.e one where the craft wasn't intentionally crashed into the lunar surface) when Luna-9 touched down on February 3, 1966 and became the first man-made object from earth to complete a successful landing on a celestial body.

On May 30 of the same year the U.S landed its own unmanned probe on the moon, Surveyor 1, which returned 11,000 pictures of the surface.

Three years later Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first human beings to walk on the moon when Apollo 11 successfully reached the surface and returned home safely.

China became the third nation to complete a moon landing in 2013 when Chang'e 3 made a successful soft landing, the first since the last Soviet mission in 1976.

That lack of expertise due to a long break was blamed for the failure of Russia's mission to the south side of the moon by the head of the state-controlled space corporation Roscosmos.

Its crash means that India has become the first country to successfully land near the south pole.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi was seen on a livestream broadcast into the Indian Space Research Organisation’s control room, smiling and waving an Indian flag as Chandrayaan-3 landed.

“India is now on the Moon,” he said.

"India's successful Moon mission is not India's alone. One Earth, one family, one future is resonating around the world.

"We can all aspire for the Moon and beyond."