Chandrayaan 2: Heartbreak for Indians as ISRO loses contact with Vikram Lander, PM Modi consoles scientists


ISRO Chief Dr K Sivan on Saturday said that his scientists had lost contact with Vikram Lander causing huge a huge disappointment to his team of scientists. Prime Minister Narendra Modi assured the visibly disappointed ISRO scientists that their achievement was already very big. The Vikram Lander was expected to landon the moon close to 2 AM in the intervening hours of Friday and Saturday.

Vikram Lander

PM Modi told the ISRO scientists, “There are ups and downs in life. This is not a small achievement. The nation in 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.”

At 1.37 AM, ISRO had tweeted that Vikram Lander had started its descent on the moon. The news was marked by a round of applause by scientists present in the control room. ISRO chief Dr K Sivan later said that while Vikram Lander’s descent was as scheduled, the communication was lost with Vikram Lander at 2.1 km from the lunar surface.” Sivan said that data was being analysed.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had arrived in the control room at around 1.15 AM to witness the spectacle. Also joining him were a group of children. Soon after the Vikram Lander’s scheduled landing time elapsed, a visibly worried ISRO chief walked up to Modi to brief the prime minister. His body language was indicative of the fact that everything was not well.

A tweet by ISRO later said that PM Modi will address the nation at 8 AM on Saturday from their headquarters.

ISRO chief Dr K Sivan had earlier told NDTV news channel about his anxiety of what he termed was 15 minutes of terror. This is because the scientists at the ISRO would not have any control over the spacecraft for the last 15 minutes until it landed at the south pole of the moon.

He had said, “This is a very. very complex process, and it is new to us, even for the people who have already done it, every time, it is a complex process, Here we are doing for the first time, so it will be fifteen minutes of terror for us.”

Dr Sivan had told news agency ANI that Chandrayaan was going to land at ‘a place where no one else has gone before’ adding that he was ‘confident about the soft landing.’

Chandrayaan 2 was successfully launched on 22 July and the spacecraft has been in the space for more than seven weeks, first orbiting the earth before completing multiple orbits of the moon.

In the event of a successful landing, the Indian mission would have become the first of its kind given its low and affordable cost since it has only cost India Rs 1,000 crore, which is significantly lower compared to how much other countries spent for a similar mission in the past.

There was always the fear that the Lander may not function properly and it would have to crash land on the Moon surface, like its predecessor Chandrayaan 1 – though this was an intentional crash landing as in 2008 India had not yet mastered how to perform a soft landing.