Green line vanished, and silence fell
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
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