Chandrayan 2

India’s 🇮🇳 First Lunar Lander 🚀 Falls Silent Just Before Touchdown

An Indian spacecraft’s unprecedented attempt to make a soft, controlled landing in the moon’s south polar region has ended in excruciating silence: Shortly before touchdown, the robotic lander Vikram—part of the Chandrayaan-2 mission—fell out of contact with mission control. The Indian Space Research Organization, India’s space agency, says that the spacecraft stopped communicating with Earth when it was within 1.3 miles of the lunar surface.

“The Vikram descent was as planned, and normal performance was observed, up to an altitude of 2.1 kilometers,” said Kailasavadivoo Sivan, ISRO’s chairman, in a statement roughly half an hour after signal loss. “The data is being analyzed.”

In addition to setting a global first, a successful landing would have made India just the fourth country to touch down anywhere on the lunar surface, and only the third nation to operate a robotic rover there. Nevertheless, the Chandrayaan-2 mission’s orbiter remains safely in lunar orbit, with a year-long scientific mission ahead of it.

“India is proud of our scientists! They’ve given their best and have always made India proud,” Indian prime minister Narendra Modi said in a statement on Twitter after Sivan’s update. “These are moments to be courageous, and courageous we will be!”

Like any voyage to a world beyond Earth, Vikram’s flight was a risky endeavor, requiring the lander to slow itself down to a near standstill, autonomously scan for surface obstacles, and then take steps to avoid them during touchdown. The majority of attempts to land robots on the moon have ended in failure, either during launch or on the way to the surface.


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