Prime Minister Narendra Modi today addressed Scientists at ISRO, hours after India’s attempt to make a “soft” or controlled landing on the Moon’s surface and probe the unexplored lunar South Pole suffered a major setback Saturday. The Chandrayaan 2 lander had lost communication with ISRO, the space agency had announced, moments before it was supposed to land near the south pole of the Moon.
PM Modi sought to boost the morale of the scientists after the Chandrayaan heartbreak, and praised their “resilience and tenacity”. Speaking at the ISRO Control Centre in Bengaluru, he told the scientists: “India is with you! You are exceptional professionals who have made an incredible contribution to national progress”.
The lander, Vikram – named after the India’s space pioneer Vikram Sarabhai – was supposed to land on the moon’s surface at 1:55 am following what ISRO had described as “15 minutes of terror”. Communication with the Chandrayaan lander was lost just seconds before touchdown.
ISRO Chief K Sivan briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was then at the ISRO control center, before making the announcement. “Vikram lander’s descent was as planned and normal performance was observed up to an altitude of 2.1 km. Subsequently, the communication from the lander to the ground station was lost. The data is being analyzed,” the ISRO chief said around 2:16 am.
After the announcement, PM Modi patted the ISRO chief on his back and told the scientists that “what you have done (already) is not a small achievement”.
Chandrayaan’s orbiter – which has a mission life of one year – remains operational and will continue to study the Moon from afar and send pictures of the lunar surface to ISRO.