Saturday, just before it was supposed to landing on the Moon, India lost communication with its unmanned spacecraft in a blow to the country’s lunar aspirations as the world takes renewed interest in Earth’s satellite.
While Prime Minister Narendra Modi looked into the southern town of Bangalore’s mission control room, India hoped to become just the fourth nation.
But after several tense minutes as the expected landing time in New Delhi (2025 GMT) was over, Kailasavadivooo Sivan, Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), announced that communication with the lander had been lost.
Following Sivan’s announcement, Modi informed researchers that “what you (already) have done is not a tiny accomplishment.”
Before landing, ISRO had recognized that it was a complicated maneuver called by Sivan “15 minutes of terror.”
The lander, named after the father of India’s space program Vikram A. Sarabhai, was aimed at being the first to reach the South Pole region of the Moon. Indian scientists saw more than just the mission’s national pride.
The lander was carrying Pragyan rover, Sanskrit language “wisdom,” which was due to appear several hours after touchdown.
It was anticipated that the rover would explore craters for hints about the Moon’s origin and evolution, as well as proof of how much water the polar region contains.
The orbiter is still in service and will continue for about a year to study the Moon from afar.