Chandrayaan-2: ‘Don’t Lose Hope’, Says PM Modi After ISRO Loses Contact With Moon Lander
Success eluded India’s historic Chandrayaan-2 mission when the country's space agency lost contact with the ‘Vikram’ lander after it separated from the orbiter.
“Vikram lander descent was as planned and normal performance was observed upto an altitude of 2.1 kilometres. Subsequently, the communications from lander to ground station was lost. The data is being analysed,” K Sivan, chairperson of the Indian Space Research Organisation announced.
Speaking to PTI, a senior official closely associated with the mission, said later: "There is no communication with the lander. It's as good as lost. There is no hope. Very, very difficult to re-establish contact".
The 1,471-kg lander of Chandrayaan-2 -- first Indian mission to explore the lunar terrain with home-grown technology -- is named Vikram after Dr Vikram A Sarabhai, the father of the Indian space programme.
The lander was designed to execute a soft landing on the lunar surface, and to function for one lunar day, which is equivalent to about 14 earth days.
Chandrayaan-2's 27-kg rover is a six-wheeled robotic vehicle named Pragyan, which translates to 'wisdom' in Sanskrit. It's designed to travel up to 500 metres from the landing spot on the Moon and leverage solar energy for its functioning.
The lander carried three scientific payloads to conduct surface and subsurface science experiments, while the rover carried two payloads to enhance our understanding of the lunar surface, according to ISRO.
The mission life of the orbiter will be one year while that of the rover was to be one lunar day which is equal to 14 earth days.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was at the ISRO Centre in Bengaluru to watch the descent, applauded the effort made by India's top scientists, even though the outcome was disappointing.
“There are ups and downs in life. This is not a small achievement. The nation is proud of you. Hope for the best. I congratulate you. You all have done a big service to nation, science and mankind. I am with you all the way, move forward bravely,” Modi said before leaving the centre.
Addressing the scientists hours after ISRO announced that it had lost communication with the lander, he also said that the country's determination to land on the moon has become even stronger.
“We came very close, but we need to cover more ground... Learnings from today will make us stronger and better,” he told the ISRO scientists, adding, “The best is yet to come in our space programme. India is with you.”
Here’s PM Modi addresses the nation after Chandrayaan-2 suffers last-mile problems.
A successful landing could have propelled India into an elite club of the U.S., Russia and China that have made a soft-landing on the moon.
The nation watched gripped late into the night as the unmanned mission to the south side of the moon started its descent just after midnight. The rough braking phase was executed smoothly.
It’s the last few miles of the fine braking phase that didn’t go to plan. The lander’s trajectory paused on a screen beaming live visuals to the world. After several suspenseful moments, in which the mission team were seen confabulating with each other, the ISRO chief stopped by to brief the Prime Minister seated in a viewing gallery.
Soon after, he also informed those watching that communication with the lander had been lost.
Still, the lost contact is just one setback for India. The Chandrayaan-2 orbiter is still functioning. It will continue to orbit the moon, collect and transmit data back to earth for the next one year.
With inputs from PTI