India loses contact with its lander on the surface of the moon


Wikilimages | Pixabay

Mansukh Gobind

With the increase in popularity of innovative companies such as SpaceX and Blue Origin, the world has utterly become obsessed with space. 

These companies have seemed to revive the thrill of exploring space decades after the space race. 

All of this momentum to study space has created new opportunities for more space agencies. 

Several space agencies around the world are now in a friendly competition with each other to prove that they are the best. 

This high competition is catalyzing numerous discoveries, experiments, and space missions. 

One company that has been coming to new light recently is the Indian Space Research Organization — also known as ISRO. 

This government-operated space agency is fairly small compared to large companies like NASA, however, don’t rule them out just yet. 

ISRO has conducted numerous space missions in the past 20 years. They launched Chandrayaan-1 in 2008 which discovered water in the form of ice on the moon. 

In 2014, their Mangalyaan Spacecraft entered Mars orbit, making India the first nation to achieve Mars orbit on its first try. 

In addition to that, the entire Mars Orbiter Mission budget was only $74 million dollars. 

To put that in perspective, the first Avengers movie cost $220 million dollars. Impressive, right? 

In 2017, ISRO launch 104 satellites in a single rocket, a world record. 

All of these achievements have made ISRO one of the leaders in space exploration. 

Nevertheless, they didn’t just stop there. 

On July 22, 2019, ISRO launched its second lunar mission Chandrayaan-2, which comprises of an orbiter, lander and rover, to investigate lunar geography and the conveyance of lunar water. 

And on Sept. 7, 2019, with just 2.1 kilometers of the journey left, disaster had struck. 

Chandrayaan-2’s Vikram lander had lost all contact with ISRO. Communication was completely cut off.

With the weight of India’s 1.37 billion people, ISRO was devastated with this news. 

They had been working on this mission since 2007. 

Yet, ISRO’s chief, K. Sivan, decided not to abort the mission and to continue establishing a connection with the Vikram lander.

As of now, the location of the lander was affirmed by the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter, which utilized its high-resolution thermal camera to find the lander. However, ISRO has not restored communication with the lander yet, which implies that they are unsure of whether the lander endured the hard crash-landing.

Despite the lost communication with the lander, ISRO has extended the life of the orbiter to seven years from the planned one year due to sufficient fuel onboard to further study the moon and its geography. 

ISRO claims, “90 to 95% of the mission objectives have been accomplished and will continue to contribute to lunar science, notwithstanding the loss of communication with the lander.”

Space can be unpredictable and mysterious sometimes. 

There will always be setbacks and failures. But we must learn from them and continue to push the boundaries. ISRO embodies this philosophy whole-heartedly. 

Hopefully, in the near future, ISRO can reconnect with their lander and fulfil their mission. For now, all can we do is hope and wait.