In­dia finds lander lost on lu­nar ap­proach

The Morning Call - - NATION & WORLD -

NEW DELHI — The lander mod­ule from In­dia’s moon mis­sion was lo­cated on the lu­nar sur­face Sun­day, one day af­ter it lost con­tact with the space sta­tion, and ef­forts are un­der­way to try to es­tab­lish con­tact with it, the head of the na­tion’s space agency said.

The Press Trust of In­dia news agency cited In­dian Space and Re­search Or­ga­ni­za­tion chair­man K. Si­van as say­ing cam­eras from the moon mis­sion’s or­biter had lo­cated the lander.

“It must have been a hard land­ing,” PTI quoted Si­van as say­ing.

ISRO of­fi­cials could not be reached for com­ment.

The space agency said it lost touch with the Vikram lu­nar lander Satur­day as it made its fi­nal ap­proach to the moon’s south pole to de­ploy a rover to search for signs of wa­ter.

A suc­cess­ful land­ing would have made In­dia just the fourth coun­try to land a space­craft on the lu­nar sur­face, and only the third to op­er­ate a ro­botic rover there.

The space agency said Satur­day that the lander’s de­scent was nor­mal un­til 1.2 miles from the lu­nar sur­face.

The roughly $140 mil­lion mis­sion, known as Chan­drayaan-2, was in­tended to study per­ma­nently shad­owed moon craters that are thought to con­tain wa­ter de­posits that were con­firmed by the Chan­drayaan-1 mis­sion in 2008.

The lat­est mis­sion lifted off July 22 from the Satish Dhawan space cen­ter in Sri­harikota, an is­land off the coast of the south­ern In­dian state of Andhra Pradesh.

Af­ter its launch, Chan­drayaan-2 spent sev­eral weeks mak­ing its way to­ward the moon, ul­ti­mately en­ter­ing lu­nar or­bit Aug. 20.

The Vikram lander sep­a­rated from the mis­sion’s or­biter Sept. 2 and be­gan a se­ries of brak­ing ma­neu­vers to lower its or­bit and ready it­self for land­ing.

Only three na­tions — the United States, the for­mer Soviet Union and China — have ever landed a space­craft on the lu­nar sur­face.


This screen grab from In­dian Space Re­search Or­gan­i­sa­tion shows Vikram Lander be­fore it was to land on the moon.

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