The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has had its hands full in the last few weeks with Chandrayaan-2, its mission to the moon. However, on September 7, contact was lost with the lander, Vikram, just minutes before it was supposed to soft land on the moon’s surface. Support has been pouring in for ISRO from various corners, and even the United States’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) lauded the Indian space agency for their efforts.
In a tweet, NASA acknowledged that “space is hard”, and commended ISRO’s attempt to make a soft landing on the south pole of the moon. NASA also said that it looked forward to exploring the solar system together in the future.
Space is hard. We commend @ISRO’s attempt to land their #Chandrayaan2 mission on the Moon’s South Pole. You have inspired us with your journey and look forward to future opportunities to explore our solar system together. https://t.co/pKzzo9FDLL— NASA (@NASA) September 7, 2019
Jerry Linenger, a former NASA astronaut who has flown on two American space vehicles and the erstwhile Soviet Union’s Mir space station that was operating in the Earth’s orbit for five months between 1986 and 2001, also congratulated India on Chandrayaan-2.
Commenting on the recent Indian lunar mission, Jerry told news agency PTI that India had been trying to do something “very, very difficult”, and should not be too discouraged. He explained that Vikram never made it to the hover point, which is 400 metres from the moon’s surface. Had Vikram still not succeeded but had made it to the hover point, “it would have been helpful because the radar altimeters and lasers could have been tested,” Jerry said.
Jerry said that the overall mission had been very successful, and congratulated ISRO for their attempt.
Losing contact with Vikram however, is only a setback, ISRO had said, adding that the mission had achieved 95% of its objectives, and that the orbiter would continue to stay on and collect data from the moon. Further, just a day after losing contact, the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter was able to locate the lander, however, no communication has been established yet.
“We have found the location of Vikram Lander on the lunar surface and the orbiter has clicked a thermal image of the lander. But there is no communication yet. We are trying to have contact. It will be communicated soon,” Dr K Sivan, ISRO Chief, said on Sunday.