India space mission a failure?

Contact with Moon lander and rover was lost before touchdown

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Is India's space mission a failure?

By Daniel J. McLaughlin

India was minutes away from becoming the fourth country to successfully land on the Moon - but its space agency lost contact with their lander and rover before its scheduled touchdown.

Some say that the space mission "ended in failure" after losing communication with the Vikram lander.

However, others argue that India should be applauded for its space programme.

The Claim

Bloomberg reports that the space mission ended in failure for India and its water-hunting rover.

They say it has dealt "a major blow to its ambitious space programme".

The flight of the Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft had "suffered from an inauspicious start" when its initial launch attempt was aborted minutes before liftoff in mid-July.

Bloomberg reports: "The country's space agency lost communication with a [Vikram] lander and a [Pragyan] rover near the satellite's surface, minutes before a scheduled touchdown.

"The Chandrayaan-2 craft's descent was normal until an altitude of 2.1km (1.3 miles) before communication was lost early Saturday in India."

The Counterclaim

However, Rebecca Allen, the project co-ordinator at Swinburne Space Office in Australia, says that India's space mission "should be considered a success".

In an article for The Conversation, she argues it should be seen as a lesson in spacefaring.

Allen writes: "The near success of Vikram's landing should be celebrated.

"We should applaud the hard work India has done over the past 50 years to get this far.

"This sentiment was clear as Indian prime minister Narendra Modi addressed his country, all of whom stood in solidarity with the scientists who spent countless hours in pursuit of their goal."

The Facts

Chandrayaan-2 (Moon vehicle 2) launched on July 22 and entered a lunar orbit on August 20. It was due to land on the Moon a little after midnight India local time (or 6pm GMT) on September 7.

The Vikram lander, named after Indian Space Research Organisation founder Vikram Sarabhai, was expected to touch down at the lunar south pole.

However, contact was lost minutes before it was due to land.

According to the BBC, the orbiter has spotted the lander on the surface of the Moon. It appears to be unbroken, but tilted on its side.

It is likely that the Vikram lander hit the surface with enough force to damage its communications equipment, as well as other instruments.

There are only three countries that have successfully landed a probe on the Moon: the United States, Russia, and China.

The majority of attempts to land robots on the Moon have ended in failure. For the United States, 40 per cent of lunar missions generally in the last 60 years have failed.

It is not the end of the space missions for India, though. The Chandrayaan-2 orbiter remains safely in orbit - with a year-long mission ahead of it. ISRO has said that only five per cent of the mission has been affected by losing contact with the lander.

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Bloomberg

Moonshot Ends in Failure for India and Its Water-Hunting Rover

India’s attempt to land a probe on the moon’s southern pole failed, dealing a major blow to its ambitious space program.

The country’s space agency lost communication with a lander and a rover near the satellite’s surface, minutes before a scheduled touchdown. The Chandrayaan-2 craft’s descent was normal until an altitude of 2.1 km (1.3 miles) before communication was lost early Saturday in India, the chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization, K. Sivan, said in a televised broadcast.

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