What makes a tough task challenging is a thin line between success and failure. And when it comes to the complexity of time, space or the far side of the moon, the thin line is barely visible. What was supposed to be India’s first soft landing on the far side of the moon, ended in a failure on Saturday, after ISRO lost contact with it’s Lunar Lander, Vikram. Had the mission been a success, in addition to setting a global first, India would have become the fourth country to make landing anywhere on the moon.
“The Vikram descent was as planned, and normal performance was observed, up to an altitude of 2.1 kilometers,” said Kailasavadivoo Sivan, ISRO’s chairman, in a statement roughly half an hour after signal loss. “The data is being analyzed.”
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!
Chairman @isro gave updates on Chandrayaan-2. We remain hopeful and will continue working hard on our space programme.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) September 6, 2019
The ground stations lost connection with Vikram when it was a mere 2.1 km above the moon’s surface, said ISRO in an official statement on Twitter. Although the Orbiter is in a healthy and functional state, one can’t deny how crucial Vikram Lander was for the mission. Vikram was honed to descend on the moon and gather information about the surface while studying the evidence that suggests the possibility of water ice on the moon.
What Went Wrong?
So after years of hard work and precise attention given to the smallest of details, it is necessary to mull what, exactly, went wrong at the last stage. Like any voyage to a world beyond Earth, Vikram’s journey wasn’t void of hurdles. The lander, that was carrying Rover Pragyan, had to slow itself down, scan for possible bumps on the moon’s surface to thwart the possibility of any kind of collision before making a landing attempt.
Source – ISRO
However, on its course to making history, the details analyzed by ISRO shows that the land rover was slightly off course, about 1.3 miles above the lunar surface. Although not yet confirmed by ISRO, the lander seems to have had met the same fate that an Israel’s Beresheet spacecraft faced five months earlier – a possible crash.
Despite the apparent crash, the Chandrayaan 2’s mission isn’t a complete failure. The orbiter that has been inserted into the lunar orbiter, on August 20, will send useful insights and information to Earth, helping us study the moon better for our future endeavors.
The Way Forward
Several organizations and space agencies have been making efforts to reach to the far side of the moon. And Vikram and Pragyan could have contributed to the same with their share of information about the celestial body. However, remembering the adage, one cannot fight or change fate, we together need to take this partial failure as a lesson.
A lesson that will help us rise above our failures. A lesson that will inspire generations to come.