India's hopes of creating history by making a soft landing of its Vikram Lander on Moon's surface suffered a setback when it lost contact with the ground station in the final moments of its descent but Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the nation in backing iSRO in its endeavor by talking of a "new dawn". Amidst over a billion hopes, the ISRO control room suddenly turned sullen when the Orbiter of Chandrayaan-2 lost control with the Lander just dropping suddenly at an altitude of 2.1 km, scuttling India's attempt to make history by landing on the Moon's south pole, a feat not tried by anyone before.
But Modi, who flew in here especially to watch India make a tryst with destiny, cheered ISRO Chairman K Sivan and his colleagues by talking of a "new dawn and better tomorrow". The lander's descent started perfectly at the appointed hour--1.38 am-- and was being cheered across homes in India till there was a change of mood among ISRO scientists.
Their smiles gave way to anxiety and expressions turned grim. The expected time of 15 minutes for the descent was gone but there was no announcement. Sivan briefed the Prime Minister and later made an announcement that the lander had lost communication with ground stations 2.1 km above the moon surface. "Vikram lander descent was as planned and normal performance was observed up to an altitude of 2.1 km. Subsequently, communication from Lander to the ground stations was lost. Data is being analyzed," Sivan said.
Modi addressed the nation from the ISRO Control Centre and said the Chandrayaan 2 mission may have faced a "small setback but this would not let down our zeal and enthusiasm to achieve our goals" and the resolve has been strengthened. He hugged an emotional ISRO chief K. Sivan as an expression of his appreciation and unstinted support for the efforts of the organization which has several laurels to its credit.
Modi said the whole nation was awake last night in solidarity with "our scientist sisters and brothers". "We came very close to the surface of the moon and that effort is highly laudable. When it comes to the space programme the best is yet to come. There are new frontiers to discover and new places to go to. We will rise to the occasion and scale newer heights of success," he said.
"To our scientists, I want to say, India is with you. True to your nature, you ventured into a place where no one had never gone before. You have gone as close as you could. I can proudly say the effort was worth it and so was the journey. Our team worked hard and traveled far, and those teachings will always remain with us. The learning from today will get us a stronger and better tomorrow," he added. The descent of Vikram lander from a height of about 30 km to the south polar region of the moon, where no one has landed in the past, was considered the most challenging part of Chandrayaan 2 mission.
The event had generated unprecedented interest throughout the country and was also being watched globally. Modi was at ISRO Control Centre early on Saturday to watch it along with a select group of students. India's mission to soft-land on the moon had cost far less than similar endeavors earlier. The lander's descent started perfectly at the appointed hour and was being cheered across homes in India till there was a change of mood among ISRO scientists. Their smiles gave way to anxiety and expressions turned grim. The expected time of 15 minutes for the descent was gone but there was no announcement. Sivan briefed the Prime Minister and later made an announcement that the lander had lost communication with ground stations 2.1 km above the moon surface.
"Vikram lander descent was as planned and normal performance was observed up to an altitude of 2.1 km. Subsequently, communication from Lander to the ground stations was lost. Data is being analyzed," Sivan said. While ISRO is analyzing data concerning the lander, the lunar orbiter, another significant part of Chandrayaan 2 mission, is firmly in place in its orbit along with its eight payloads. The orbiter payloads will conduct remote-sensing observations of moon surface and study its outer atmosphere.
Modi, who had a brief word with the scientists after the loss of communication with the lander, spoke to them in detail in the morning. "India is proud of our scientists. They've given their best and have always made India proud. These are moments to be courageous, and courageous we will be. The country is with you, I am with you. The effort was worth it and so was the journey. You are those people who work for Mother India's victory and struggle for it and have a grit and determination to make her proud," he said.
Modi said he could feel and sense "despondency and emotions" of scientists last night. "I was amongst you when the communication from the vehicle was lost. There are several unanswered questions but I am sure you would find the answers. I know there was hard work behind."
"We are proud of our space program and scientists, their hard work and determination have ensured a better life not only for our citizens but also for other nations. It is the outcome of their innovative zeal that several people got a better quality of life including better health care and education. India knows that there would be many more proud moments to rejoice." Modi thanked the families of space scientists. "Their silent but valuable support remains a major strength in our effort," he said.
The Prime Minister said resilience and tenacity were central to India's ethos. "In our glorious history we may have faced moments that could have crushed us but we never gave up. This is the reason our civilization stands tall. In our glorious history, we may have faced moments that could have crushed us but we never gave up. This is the reason our civilization stands tall."
"We have made historical achievements. I know that ISRO also does not failures to let it down. There will be a new dawn and a better tomorrow. Without worrying about results we go ahead and that is our history. I have confidence in you. Your dreams are higher than mine. And I am fully confident on your hopes," he said. Modi said he was meeting scientists to get inspiration from them. "You are a sea of inspiration and living evidence of inspiration. I congratulate you all and wish you all the best in your endeavors," he said.
Sivan broke down when Modi was leaving the control center after interacting with the scientists and moving towards his car. Sivan approached the Prime Minister to thank him for his morale-boosting speech but could not hold back his emotions and broke down in tears.
ISRO received compliments for its efforts from people from all walks of life, celebrities, actors, industrialists, sportspersons apart from political leaders from across the spectrum. President Ram Nath Kovind greeted scientists for their "exemplary commitment and courage". Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, Home Minister Amit Shah were among leaders who praised ISRO scientists.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi said it was a testament to ISRO's "remarkable ability, goodwill and unique place in the heart of every Indian, that the nation followed Chandrayaan 2's journey at every step no matter the hour". Party leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, JD-S leader HD Kumaraswamy and Chief Ministers of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, and West Bengal were among those who lauded the ISRO scientists.
Bhutanese Prime Minister Lotay Tshering and former Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa also greeted the ISRO for the lunar mission with the latter saying that it was an "incredibly proud moment for all of South Asia". Former DRDO scientist Ravi Gupta said that achievements of the mission were "marvelous".
Chandrayaan-2 was launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota on July 22. After revolving around the earth's orbit, the spacecraft began its journey to the moon on August 14 and all maneuvers were carried out to perfection until the last few minutes of descent. (ANI)
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)