BANGALORE: India has lost contact with its unmanned spacecraft, Chandrayaan-2 on Saturday just before it was due to land on the Moon, in a blow to the country’s ambitious low-cost lunar programme.
Blasting off in July, the emerging Asian giant had hoped to become just the fourth country after the United States, Russia and regional rival China to make a successful Moon landing and the first on the lunar South Pole.
But in the early hours of Saturday, millions watched with bated breath nationwide, Vikram, the lander named after the father of India´s space programme, went silent just 2.1 kilometres (1.3 miles) above the lunar surface.
The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought to comfort gloomy scientists and a stunned nation from the lunar program´s command centre in Bangalore.
Narender Modi said, “India was proud and clasping the visibly emotional mission chief in a lengthy bear hug.”
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman Kailasavadivoo Sivan said, “The Vikram lander descent was (going) as planned and normal performance was observed.”
He said in a stunned operations room, “Subsequently the communication from the lander to the ground station was lost, the data is being analysed.”
The ISRO said, The Chandrayaan-2, which will circle and study the Moon remotely for a year, is however healthy, intact, functioning normally and safely in the lunar orbit.”
Narendra Modi had hoped to bask in the glory of a successful mission, but on Saturday he deftly turned consoler-in-chief in a speech at mission control broadcast live on television and to his 50 million Twitter followers.
He said, “India is proud of our scientists. They have 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.”
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