In­dia lo­cates miss­ing lan­der, but no lu­nar com­mu­ni­ca­tion

Global Times US Edition - - WORLD -

In­dian space sci­en­tists were des­per­ately try­ing Tues­day to es­tab­lish com­mu­ni­ca­tion with their bro­ken moon lan­der, hav­ing lo­cated the probe that went silent moments be­fore it was due to make a his­toric soft land­ing.

The lan­der, called Vikram – af­ter the founder of In­dia’s space pro­gram – was due to touch down on the moon in the early hours of Satur­day, but con­tact was lost around 2.1 kilo­me­ters above the sur­face.

The In­dian Space Re­search Or­gan­i­sa­tion (ISRO) tweeted an up­date on its Chan­drayaan2 (Moon Ve­hi­cle 2) mis­sion, which blasted off in July with In­dia hop­ing to be­come just the fourth country to make a suc­cess­ful soft lu­nar land­ing.

“#Vikramlan­der has been lo­cated by the or­biter of #Chan­drayaan2, but no com­mu­ni­ca­tion with it yet. All pos­si­ble ef­forts are be­ing made to es­tab­lish com­mu­ni­ca­tion with lan­der,” the space agency said.

The Asian country’s most com­plex space mis­sion, car­ry­ing an or­biter, lan­der and rover, was al­most en­tirely de­signed and made in In­dia – and cost a rel­a­tively mod­est $140 mil­lion.

In­dian me­dia re­ports have said that the lan­der suf­fered a “hard land­ing,” pos­si­bly dam­ag­ing it and the rover in­side.

The Press Trust of In­dia (PTI) news agency re­ported Mon­day that the lan­der was un­bro­ken but was ly­ing tilted on the lu­nar sur­face, and that the chances of restor­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion were low.

“Un­less and un­til every­thing is in­tact, it’s very dif­fi­cult [to re-es­tab­lish con­tact],” PTI quoted an un­named ISRO of­fi­cial as say­ing. “Only if it had a soft land­ing, and if all sys­tems func­tioned, could com­mu­ni­ca­tion can be re­stored. Things are bleak.”

Only the US, Rus­sia and China have made a suc­cess­ful soft land­ing on the moon, and In­dia had hoped to be the first on the lu­nar South Pole.

Ac­cord­ing to the ISRO, the or­biter will con­tinue to cir­cle the moon for al­most seven years, pro­vid­ing “high­res­o­lu­tion im­ages which will be im­mensely use­ful to the global sci­en­tific com­mu­nity.”

In­dia is also pre­par­ing Ga­ganyaan, its first manned space mis­sion, and wants to land a probe on Mars. [email protected] glob­al­times.com.cn

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