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India’s historic Moon landing mission Chandrayaan 2 faces communication ‘failure’

Bengaluru, India: India’s historic attempt to soft-land a rover on the moon has faced partial failure seconds before landing.

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.

“Vikram lander descent was as planned and normal performance was observed till the altitude of 2.1 km. Subsequently, the communication from the lander to the ground station was lost. The data is being analyzed,” said K. Sivan, ISRO chairman.

The control room in the southern Indian city of Bengaluru filled with scientists along with Prime Minister Modi underwent a visible change as updates from the lander faded. The crowd had celebrated every small step during the controlled descent of Chandrayaan-2 and at 1:55 a.m. local time on Saturday, the moment the landing was expected to take place, silence descended.

Prime Minister Modi who had tweeted a series of tweets to the nation about the live updates of the Moon mission then sent a tweet to honor the courage if the scientists post the news of communication ‘failure’.

“Only 5 percent of the mission has been lost – Vikram the lander and Pragyan the rover – while the remaining 95 percent – that is the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter – is orbiting the moon successfully,” an official of Indian Space Research Organisation or ISRO, who did not want to be identified told IANS News agency. Headlines of Today was not able to independently verify the claim.

Writer and managing editor of Nasa Spaceflight Chris G agreed. He said that “The orbiter is where 95 percent of the experiments are”.

“If Vikram failed to land – which it looks like remember the orbiter is where 95 percent of the experiments are. The orbiter is safely in lunar orbit and performing its mission. This is not a total failure. Not at all,” Chris G said.

Isro chairman K Sivan broke down soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi concluded his speech.

PM Modi who was addressing the nation from ISRO Control Centre today at 8 a.m. local time was seen consoling ISRO Chief Kailasavadivoo Sivan.

This latest launch would have brought India into the elite group of nations who have achieved the feat of a soft landing on the moon. The three nations who have made soft landings were the United States, China, and the former Soviet Union.

Unlike previous attempts by other countries, ISRO was attempting to land Chandrayaan-2, its rover on the far side of the moon, an area that has been left largely unexplored during other missions.

Chandrayaan-2 (Moon vehicle 2) was the most complex mission ever attempted by India’s space agency, Isro. “It is the beginning of a historical journey,” Isro chief K Sivan said after launch in July.

The Vikram lander (named after the founder of Isro) carried within its belly a 27kg Moon rover “Pragyan” with instruments to analyze the lunar soil traveling up to a half a kilometer from the lander at speed of 1cm per second in its 14-day long life.

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