Sunday, 22 September, 2019

India's moon mission in peril as spacecraft goes silent

ISRO confirms moon lander Vikram located on lunar surface Representational Image
Sandra Phillips | 07 September, 2019, 06:55

"The descent was normal and as planned as was observed up to 2.1 kilometres from the surface", chairman Kailasavadivoo Sivan said. Subsequently, communication with Vikram lander was lost. "The data is being analyzed", Sivan said. You might get to see 10 extra minutes of the lander Vikram's descent, or you might not. But the trouble began shortly after the fine braking phase was initiated. Their distress came watching a bright green line - representing the lander's trajectory on a large screen - suddenly veer off-course.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered encouragement to the ISRO via Twitter.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi told ISRO scientists not to lose confidence after communication with the Vikram Lander was lost.

"What you have achieved is no small feat", Modi said. "I thank you and stand beside you in this hour". "Proceed with courage. Hope for the best". Only the former Soviet Union, the United States and China have successfully landed a man-made device on the Earth's satellite so far.

This is important because it could determine whether having people live on the Moon is feasible, said Mathieu Weiss, a representative in India for France's space agency CNES. Instead he punched out a tweet.

India, he added, is proud of its scientists.

India would have been the fourth nation to make a soft landing on the Moon. "These are moments to be courageous, and courageous we will be!" Stay tuned with ibtimes.co.in for latest updates on Chandrayaan-2.

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"We remain hopeful and will continue working hard on our space [program]", Modi said.

According to the ISRO, there have been 38 soft landing attempts on the Moon to date, with a success rate of 52 per cent - not counting Chandrayaan 2. It plans to send three astronauts into Earth's orbit in 2022 and put up its own space station by 2030.

The Chandrayaan 2 lifted off from its launch pad at Andhra Pradesh's Sriharikota on July 23 aboard the giant heavy-lift rocket GSLV Mark 3.

Chandrayaan-2, which cost about $140m (£114m), far less than other missions, is an entirely indigenous project.

ISRO acknowledged before the landing, due to occur at about 1.55am New Delhi time was a complex manoeuvre, with Sivan calling it "15 minutes of terror".

Both Vikram and the Pragyan rover had a design lifetime of one lunar daytime, equivalent to around 14 Earth days.

India's first Moon mission - Chandrayaan-1 in 2008 - orbited the astronomical body and carried out the first and most detailed search for water on the lunar surface using radars.

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