Chandrayaan 2 fails as lander lost seconds before touching moon’s surface

NEW DELHI/ BENGALURU: Communication with the Chandrayaan 2 lander was lost seconds before it was supposed to touch down on the moon’s surface, chief of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said on Saturday. India hoped to create history by becoming the first nation to reach closest to the Moon’s south pole but as 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 and was seen leaving.
“There are ups and downs in life. This is not a small achievement. The nation in proud of you. Wish you the very 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,” PM Modi told the scientists.
The Moon lander Vikram that separated from its orbiting mothership performed a series of manoeuvres to lower its altitude for a perfect touchdown between 1:30 am and 2:30 am on Saturday. It used rocket thrusters to slow itself down to attempt the extremely tricky operation that ISRO called “15 minutes of terror”. It was at this point, about 2.1 km from the surface, that contact was lost.
“Vikram lander’s descent was as planned and normal performance was observed up to an altitude of 2.1 km. Subsequently communication from lander to ground was lost. The data is being analysed,” ISRO chief K Sivan said. Dr Sivan had called Chandrayaan 2 the “most complex mission ever undertaken by ISRO”.
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 to carry out research, including a thorough mapping of the Moon’s resources, looking for the presence of water and clicking high-resolution images as well.
The Chandrayaan 2 lifted off from its launch pad at Andhra Pradesh’s Sriharikota on July 23 on board the giant heavy-lift rocket GSLV Mark 3. India’s space scientists pulled off the launch in a narrow one-minute window for their second attempt at launching the Moon mission, a week after the mission was aborted 56 minutes before lift-off.