Communication with Chandrayaan 2’s lander – Vikram was lost seconds before it was suppose to touch down on the Moon’s surface, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said. Days of anticipation ended in a heartbreaking announcement.
India had hoped to create history by becoming the first nation to reach closest to the lunar south pole but as the landing time of 1:55 am came and went, there were no signs that the mission had succeeded.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was watching the landing from the mission control room, was briefed by ISRO scientists before the official announcement by ISRO chief, K Sivan.
“The Vikram lander descent was as planned and normal performance was observed until an altitude of 2.1 kilometres. Subsequently the communication from the lander to the ground station was lost. The data is being analysed,” ISRO chief K Sivan said.
Had things gone as per plan, the rover Pragyan was to roll out from the Moon lander between 5:30 am and 6:30 am. Over its lifespan of 14 days, Pragyan was expected to explore craters for clues on the origin and evolution of the Moon, and also for evidence on how much water the polar region contains.
A successful landing would have made India the fourth country after the US, Russia and China to accomplish a soft landing on the Moon. The Chandrayaan 2’s orbiter remains in operation and will continue to study the Moon from afar for about a year.
The spacecraft lifted off from its launch pad at Andhra Pradesh’s Sriharikota on July 23. After a month of space travel and entering the moon’s orbit. Vikram separated from its orbiting mothership and performed a series of manoeuvres to lower its altitude for a perfect touchdown between 1:30 am and 2:30 am. Rocket thrusters were used to slow it down to attempt the extremely tricky operation that ISRO called “15 minutes of terror”.
Source : Various