India loses connection with Moon lander during final descent
India’s Vikram lunar lander lost communication with mission control during the final stage of its descent and apparently crashed.
The ISTRAC mission control in Bangalore had just announced that the lander, dubbed Vikram, had it successfully completed the hard braking maneuver and began fine braking. Its trajectory appeared to deviate slightly from the optimal projected course.
The descent was proceeding as planned up to the attitude of 2.1 kilometers, when communication was lost, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chief K. Sivan announced.
#ISRO Chairman Dr K Sivan says, the powered descent of the lander Vikram has been normal till reaching the altitude of 2.51 km. Subsequently, the communication from the Lander was lost. The reason is being analysed.#Chandrayaan2pic.twitter.com/p5uqsttgH4— All India Radio News (@airnewsalerts) September 6, 2019
The ISRO is now analyzing the data to determine what happened, Sivan said.
Looking at the numbers on the screen - 58m/s at 330m up - I don't believer Vikram had the TWR to stop in time from that situation. pic.twitter.com/ms3yPq2kci— Scott Manley (@DJSnM) September 6, 2019
Delivered by Chandrayaan-2 orbiter, the Vikram was aiming for the south pole of the moon, where it was to deploy a small rover – dubbed Pragyan – and look for signs of water.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was in the gallery to observe the landing, left the ISTRAC before the official announcement of the lander's status. He later tweeted that India was proud of its scientists and that this was the moment to be "courageous."
"We remain hopeful and will continue working hard on our space [program]," Modi said.
India is proud of our scientists! They’ve given their best and have always made India proud. These are moments to be courageous, and courageous we will be! Chairman @isro gave updates on Chandrayaan-2. We remain hopeful and will continue working hard on our space programme.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) September 6, 2019
With India’s failure to deliver the lander to the surface gently enough, the Moon Club remains fairly exclusive. Only the former Soviet Union, the US and China have successfully landed a man-made device on the Earth’s satellite so far.
Israel’s first-ever lunar lander, dubbed Beresheet, crashed and burned during the landing attempt back in April.
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