India’s First Attempt to Land in the Moon Ends in Silence

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Viewers were recently invited to watch live through ISRO’s social media as India’s space agency attempted to be the fourth nation to land on the moon at 3:30 p.m. EST on Friday, September 6.However, the attempt ended in silence.

According to a report on News Atlas, On September 7, 2019 at 1:54 am IST (September 6, 20:24 GMT), the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) lost contact with its Vikram lunar lander as it descended to an altitude of about 2 km (1.2 mi) of the lunar surface. It remains unclear whether the lander actually crashed or has landed on the moon, in spite of this fact ISRO seems to regard the landing as 90 to 95 percent successful while also considering the spacecraft as lost.

The report states that, after the spacecraft was launched, “the Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter and Vikram made a series of orbital maneuvers over the course of several weeks that put it into a translunar trajectory ending in a circular orbit around the Moon on September 7 at an altitude of 35 km (22 mi). On Saturday, Vikram undocked from the Orbiter and used its variable braking rockets to descend to an intended soft landing between the craters Manzinus C and Simpelius N at 70° S latitude near the lunar South Pole.”

ISRO reports that the lander showed no problems with its systems and actually operated as designed, which makes the sudden loss of radio contact with mission control even more unexpected. They, however, report that the Orbiter is in good health and is expected to remain up there for up to the next seven years to study the evolution of the moon and also map minerals and water traces in the Polar Regions.

If the mission had been successful, it would have made India the fourth country to reach the Moon’s surface, after the United States, Russia, and China.

Astronomy.com, explains that the Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO) Chandrayaan-2 mission consists of several parts, including an orbiter to observe the Moon for a year, the Pragyan rover to explore the surface, and the Virkam lander that will bring the rover down. The rover and the lander will be active for about 14 Earth days, as they send information back via the orbiter.

In late July, ISRO launched Chandrayaan-2 on their GSLV MkIII-M1 rocket, after a last-minute delay on the launch pad due to a technical issue. The orbiter released Virkam on September 2 and has been orbiting the Moon since the release. 

Exploring the Moon’s South Pole region could also give space organizations more information about the resources stored in the area. If India’s space agency turns up more evidence of frozen water and other natural elements, it could help make the case for future lunar settlements.

A few months ago, on April 2019, Israel attempted to be the fourth country to land on the, but as however, as their robotic lander approached the moon, it suffered a malfunction and went crashing into the Moon instead.