The most significant part of India’s second mission to the moon, Chandrayaan-2, was hit by a major setback after all this time of anticipation. The landing of the Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft that was being broadcasted to billions around the world immediately got bad after an error occurred about 2.1km from the surface when the scientists at ISRO’s control room lost contact with the lander.
The fate of the vessel is unknown though, but it has been revealed that there would be further opportunities.
India would have been the fourth nation in the world to make a soft landing on the lunar surface alongside the USA, Russia and China. Mind you they would have been the first to explore the south part of the moon’s surface.
Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has however been so supportive of the mission so far despite the setback. He stated how proud he is of the programme that had come so near to putting a probe on the moon.
“The best is yet to come in our space programme. India is with you,” said Mr Modi.
What Really Happened?
Chandrayaan-2 launched successfully from the earth and had a great promise of really doing this after it joined the moon’s orbit on 20th August. The two parts of the spacecraft then separated after some manoeuvres and the lander that houses the rover was due to make a controlled descent to the lunar surface early on Saturday, Indian time.
The huge staff at the mission control room were glued to the screens full of expectation as the rest of the world.
They then burst into cheering and applause during the breaking phase of the landing, only for the “15 minutes of terror” to now turn into an ugly reality. The comms with the lander were then faced with a glitch so the whole team could not tell where the vessel was from the surface.
Why Was It So Important?
The feat that was to be achieved by the Indian Space Research Organisation would have been a huge technological achievement for India’s space ambitions, according to science writer Pallava Bagla.
The interplanetary expedition was also the first in India’s space history to be spearheaded by two women- Muthaya Vanitha, the project director, and Ritu Karidhal, the mission director.
More to this, the whole world including other space organisations like NASA and SpaceX were obviously watching out for this, considering their already known plans of having their spacecraft, up there, with humans.
Nevertheless, the mission that was said to be even cheaper than the Avengers: Endgame budget still remains to be a national pride for the people of India. We should then look forward to more feats that will hopefully be better and better. Hopefully, the lander’s comms could even be restored over time, who knows?
Updated on 08/09/2019
The past 24 hours or so must have been the hardest for India and evidently more on the team at ISRO, led by Dr Kailasavadivoo Sivan. But it seems like the space agency is not about to give up on the mission anytime. This is after reports stating that ISRO is still making various efforts to restore communication with the lander that was set to make the nation’s history.
As reported by NDTV, the Chandrayaan-2 Vikram lander has been located on the moon’s surface and the ground station is working to establish contact.
According to Dr Sivan, “We’ve found the location of lander Vikram on lunar surface and orbiter has clicked a thermal image of the lander. But there is no communication yet. We are trying to have contact. It will be communicated soon. It must have been a hard landing.”
He added on to say that it was unclear whether the lander was damaged or not.
With many still wondering what happened to the last minutes before landing, Dr Sivan did come out and explain that “the last part of the operation was not executed in the right manner”. This then caused the vessel to lose the link with the control room in Bengaluru.
But after the world seemed to have concluded the mission as a failure, it is clear that ISRO is not about to call it quits until every last effort is made. This is even after many congratulating the team for the mission so far, including praises from the American space agency, NASA.
Space is hard. We commend @ISRO’s attempt to land their #Chandrayaan2 mission on the Moon’s South Pole. You have inspired us with your journey and look forward to future opportunities to explore our solar system together. https://t.co/pKzzo9FDLL
— NASA (@NASA) September 7, 2019
So from here onwards, fingers crossed!