Indian space agency loses contact with lunar lander
An exterior view of the Indian space agency's mission control center in Bengaluru, India, on Saturday, Sept. 7. EFE/EPA/JAGADEESH NV
Journalists await a briefing at the Indian space agency's mission control center in Bengaluru, India, on Saturday, Sept. 7. EFE/EPA/JAGADEESH NV
Workers at the Indian space agency's mission control center in Bengaluru, India, confer after the loss of contact with the Vikram lunar lander on Saturday, Sept. 7. EFE/EPA/JAGADEESH NV
Screen grab of television footage showing Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Indian space agency's mission control center in Bengaluru, India, on Saturday, Sept. 7. EFE/EPA/JAGADEESH NV
New Delhi, Sep 7 (efe-epa).- India's space agency said Saturday that ground controllers lost contact with the Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft's Vikram lander during the planned landing on the Moon.
"This is Mission Control Center. #VikramLander 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," Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) chairman K Sivan said.
The signal was interrupted around 2.20 am (20.50 GMT Friday), roughly 20 minutes after the Vikram began the descent to the lunar surface.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who traveled to the southern city of Bengaluru to monitor the landing from the Mission Control Center, tried to offer encouragement to the ISRO team.
"There are ups and downs in life. This is not a small achievement. The nation in proud of you. Hope for the best. I congratulate you. You all have done a big service to nation, science and mankind. I am with you all the way, move forward bravely," Modi said.
The Chandrayaan-2 was launched on July 22 and entered lunar orbit on Aug. 20.
Equipped with a rover and an array of scientific instruments, the Vikram was supposed to touch down in a level area between two craters.
The designated spot was closer to the Moon's south pole than any previous landing.
The Chandrayaan-1 achieved lunar orbit in November 2008 and a NASA instrument aboard the spacecraft confirmed the presence of water on the Moon.
With Chandrayaan-2, India was hoping to become only the fourth nation - after the United States, Russia and China - to land a spacecraft on the Moon.
In concrete terms, the mission's purpose was to deepen scientists' understanding of the Moon's mineral composition and the presence of water.
The mission plan calls for the Chandrayaan-2's orbiter module to continue circling the Moon for a year.
India successfully placed satellites in Earth orbit in 1999 and the ISRO's ambitions include sending probes to Venus and the sun as well as eventually sending people into space.