India loses touch with lander on its final approach to moon
BENGALURU, India (AP) — India's space agency said it lost touch Saturday with its Vikram lunar lander as it made its final approach to moon's south pole to deploy a rover to search for signs of water.
The fate of the lander — whether it crashed or landed — wasn't immediately known. A successful landing would have made India just the fourth country to land a vessel on the lunar surface, and only the third nation to operate a robotic rover there.
The space agency said the lander's descent was normal until 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) from the lunar surface.
"Let us hope for the best," said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was at Mission Control in the southern city of Bengaluru.
The entire control center was jubilant during the first 10 minutes of lander's descent, with scientists breaking out in occasional cheers. The mood suddenly turned somber and then dejected when the lander stopped sending data during its final minutes of descent.
"I can understand the sadness in your face," Modi later told gathered scientists after being briefed by the space agency chairman. "I have lived the moment with you when communication with spacecraft was lost."
K Sivan, the agency chairman, said the data was being analyzed to find out what happened.
The roughly $140 million mission, known as Chandrayaan-2, was intended to study permanently shadowed moon craters that are thought to contain water deposits that were confirmed by the Chandrayaan-1 mission in 2008.
India's achievements in space have been hailed by Modi as a symbol of the country's rising ambition as a global power.
Even after communication was lost, scientists at mission control chanted "Victory for Mother India" in response to Modi's speech.
The space agency's chairman had earlier called Chandrayaan-2 the "most complex mission ever" undertaken by the space agency.
The mission lifted off on July 22 from the Satish Dhawan space center in Sriharikota, an island off the coast of the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.
After its launch, Chandrayaan-2 spent several weeks making its way toward the moon, ultimately entering lunar orbit on Aug 20.
On Sept. 2, Vikram separated from the mission's orbiter, and the lander began a series of braking maneuvers to lower its orbit and ready itself for landing.
Only three nations — the United States, the former Soviet Union and China — have landed spacecraft on the moon.
Last January, China achieved the first landing on the far side of the moon. In April, an Israeli spacecraft attempting to land crashed moments before touchdown.
Getting to the moon is difficult but landing on the moon is the real challenge!
Yep. The Moon Club is still China, Russia and the US. The Man on Moon Club is......wait for it.....STILL only the US.
It was a nice try though. Soon, India will have their technological breakthrough that will allow them to match the accomplishments of the the United States - in 1969.
They should call tech support but it would probably be picked up by someone speaking very formal english with a british accent and therefore, difficult to understand.
Speaker of the Truth
With all the people they have working tech support in the world they should have built the best one ever.
I hope they reestablish contact with it. If they fail to do so, I hope India tries again. May they ultimately be successful in their space explorations.
JoeS10 hours ago
I've never heard "India" and "Space Agency" in the same sentence before.
Someone hacked the computer, and for $50 US it can be fixed.
This is the same thing that happened to Israel's lunar lander. Coincidence?
Landing on the moon is so 1960's.....btw, I thought they found water when they forgot to close the hatch on their submarine.
I know I should not poke fun. And I won't ... but some of the comment posted here are hilarious!
Marshall9 hours ago
Isn't this the same nation that nearly lost a submarine after it submerged with a hatch open?
Give them a little more time. They'll catch up with 1960's U.S. space technology eventually.
First thing the Indians are gonna do when they land a man on the moon is open a corner shop
Feeding their hungry citizens are more important than sending someone to the moon.
Is it possible that it landed as planned but they just don't know about it because they can't receive the transmission? I mean, maybe they could reestablish communication and proceed with the mission? Or is it just lost?
Sad. I had hoped that ISRO could pull off the soft landing, despite the shoestring funding India's circumstances allow. Maybe next time. And, PRC beware. Soft landings aren't easy. Mars will be much harder still.
Not good news. We need other countries succeeding in their efforts in space for the benefit of everyone.
Their space program doesn't have the history that the US, USSR and China have so I would say that this experience will fold into the program, problems will be corrected and then they will get it done.
Space exploration is difficult, and progress is wrought with failure. India also made this attempt on a very small budget, which can only make the effort that much more difficult.
India, always wants to be on par with America on technology. NEVER will.
That's too bad, but it doesn't surprise me much. About 15-20 years ago I worked for an Indian software company that opened a U.S. sales office in the city where I lived. Let's see, how can I put this as kindly as possible? The Indians had a tendency to cut corners.
Sorry to hear, but not surprised. India has endemic poverty, yet they spend money on moon missions; I suggest there is an opportunity for some cultural soul searching about priorities.
The Israeli lander also lost contact when close to the moon. I'm wondering whether they started to pick up echoes of their signals that bounced off the moon and confused them.
India's ancient history holds the keys to a highly advanced civilization on Earth. The nuclear weapons in today's world are the products of the ancient scripts. Oppenheimer referenced them before creating the first nuclear bomb.
New data shows the Apollo manned landings have been very lucky. In one of the Apollo missions right after they had walked on the surface, there was a solar flare. Had the astronauts been on the surface in their space suits, they would have gotten radiation sickness requiring immediate return to earth for treatment.They could have died. Those solar flares are a huge problem.
We cannot prejudge. We can still hear something after 2-3 days. It’s all about patience. Great try ISRO. Keep doing good job.
Well they tried, I would like to see more countries doing this. If we all put our heads together we can achieve anything.
Anamjem / WAK.
INDIA on race with superpowers due to growing economy and trade raising huge investments in rocketry and lethal weapons but not caring poverty and homeless and jobless millions!
D Miracali6 hours ago
No efforts are lost. We, the scientific community, learn from every step we take. Let us hope that India's space agency will somehow reestablish contact. My empathy on this set-back. My congrats to India's Space Agency and India on this great effort! Most importantly, it was a genuine and real effort, not a fabricated event that we in this country are familiar with based on the past.
Came close. Probably closer than the Israelis. But, as usual, it is that last part that isn't easy. If they were landing in the shadow part of the crater, I wonder how they were supposed to communicate?