Green line van­ished, and si­lence fell

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times Nation - Suren­dra.Singh @times­group.com

Ben­galuru (Isro cen­tre): The at­mos­phere was tense at Isro’s mis­sion op­er­a­tions com­plex early Satur­day morn­ing as Vikram lan­der be­gan its 15-minute, “ter­ri­fy­ing” final de­scent. Project di­rec­tor Muthayya Vanitha and mis­sion di­rec­tor Ritu Karid­hal were glued to the screen as they didn’t want to miss a mo­ment. Out­side the glass cabin of the con­trol room was Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi. He was be­ing briefed by an of­fi­cial.

As the clock ticked 1.38am, the con­trol room con­troller made the an­nounce­ment of the start of final de­scent. As the lan­der raced down the tra­jec­tory, the sci­en­tists started clap­ping. Over 60 stu­dents se­lected from across the coun­try and some in­vited from Bhu

FIN­GERS CROSSED:

tan, who were sit­ting be­hind the con­trol room, joined the cheer­ing crowd. Even the PM started clap­ping. There was a cel­e­bra­tory mood all over the Isro com­plex. It seemed In­dia would be­come the first to land on Moon’s south pole.

Sud­denly, the green line de­not­ing Vikram on the screen started de­vi­at­ing from the path, and at ex­actly 1.51am, 13 min­utes af­ter the start of the final de­scent, the green line stopped mov­ing. The cel­e­bra­tions stopped. Isro chief K Si­van broke the bad news at 2.16am.

The Isro chief ’s an­nounce­ment plunged the whole coun­try into a state of gloom. Modi then en­tered the con­trol room and con­soled the sci­en­tists.

Space ex­perts and global me­dia called this set­back a “par­tial loss”. New York Times said In­dia’s “en­gi­neer­ing prow­ess and decades of space de­vel­op­ment have com­bined with its global am­bi­tions”.

Is­rael, whose Beresheet lan­der had crash-landed in April, also re­sponded pos­i­tively. “Take pride In­dia and have courage,” tweeted Ron Malka, Is­rael am­bas­sador to In­dia.

Only Pak­istan was an ex­cep­tion. Its min­is­ter for sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy Fawad Chaudhry mocked In­dia in a tweet: “Please sleep. The toy landed in Mum­bai in­stead of land­ing on the moon.”

Isro staff follow the progress of the mis­sion

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