Communication link lost with moon lander Vikram: ISRO

BANGALURU:

In a last stage snag, the communication link between India's moon lander Vikram and the moon orbiter got snapped as the former was descending towards the moon's South Pole early on Saturday, throwing suspense over the fate of Rs 978 crore Chandrayaan-2 mission.

Announcing the snapping of communication link, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman K. Sivan said, the performance of the lander was as per the plan till it was 2.1 km from the moon surface.

The communication link got snapped after that, he added.

On the screen it was seen that Vikram slightly changed from its planned path and then the communication link got snapped.

According to ISRO officials, the data is being analysed.

While the ISRO officials were crestfallen, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told them: "Be courageous."

Officials at the space agency's telemetry, tracking and command network (Istrac) are checking out the problem.

All was going well with the 1,471 kg Vikram that began its descent at about 1.38 a.m. from an altitude of 30 km at a velocity of 1,680 metres per second.

The lander was smoothly coming down with ISRO officials applauding at regular intervals and their faces beaming with pride.

The lander successfully completed its rough braking phase with its descent speed going down well.

While the rough braking phase of the lander was done well, the communication link between Vikram and the Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter got snapped when the former was at an altitude of 2.1 km above the moon surface.

Meanwhile, the 2,379 kg Chandrayaan-2 orbiter continues to fly around the moon. Its mission life is one year.

On July 22, Chandrayaan-2 was launched into the space by India's heavy lift rocket Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Mark III (GSLV Mk III) in a text book style.

The Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft comprised three segments - the Orbiter (weighing 2,379 kg, eight payloads), 'Vikram' (1,471 kg, four payloads) and rover 'Pragyan' (27 kg, two payloads).

After five earth bound orbit raising activities, Chandrayaan-2 was inserted into lunar orbit. The lander Vikram carrying the rover Pragyan separated from Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft on September 2.