India’s moon landing boosts prestige at home and abroad

A robotic Indian lander set down safely on the moon today, setting off a wave of pride that reached from Mission Control in Bengaluru to Seattle’s tech community.

“India is now on the moon,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said over a video link moments after the landing at 6:03 p.m. Indian Standard Time (5:33 a.m. PT). He went on to say that “this success belongs to all humanity.”

A roomful of mission controllers in Bengaluru cheered when the landing was confirmed at the end of a six-week-long space odyssey. “This will remain the most memorable and happiest moment for all of us,” said Kalpana Kalahasti, associate project director for the Chandrayaan-3 mission at the Indian Space Research Organization.

Today’s touchdown added India to an exclusive club of moon-landing nations that also includes the U.S., Russia and China. India’s Vikram lander is the first robotic probe to visit the moon’s south polar region, which is thought to be prime territory for human exploration and settlement.

Soon after the landing, Vikram sent back an image showing its surroundings — including one of the lander’s legs and its shadow.


India loses its moon lander at mission’s climax

Indian officials
Kailasavadivoo Sivan. the chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization, briefs Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the status of the Chandrayaan 2 mission. (ISRO via YouTube)

India’s Mission Control lost contact with the lander for its Chandrayaan 2 mission today, just as it was about to make a touchdown near the moon’s south pole.

Chandrayaan 2’s Vikram lander descended to a highland plain between two craters, Manzinus C and Simpelius N, at a latitude of 70.9 degrees south. But contact was lost in the final moments of the descent.

During the minutes that followed, worried-looking mission managers huddled with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was at Satish Dhawan Space Center for the landing. Then Kailasavadivoo Sivan, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization, took the microphone at Mission Control.

“Vikram lander’s descent was as planned, and normal performance was observed up to an altitude of 2.1 kilometers,” he said. “Subsequently, the communication from the lander to ground station was lost. The data is being analyzed.”

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India sends probe toward moon landing

India GSLV rocket launch
India’s GSLV Mk III rocket lifts off, sending the Chandrayaan 2 probe on a trip to the moon. (ISRO Photo)

India began a slow but steady space odyssey to the moon’s south polar region today with the launch of its Chandrayaan 2 mission.

The lunar landing, set for Sept. 6-7, would make India the fourth nation to set a probe safely down on the moon’s surface, after Russia, the United States and China.

If all goes according to plan, the mission’s Vikram lander and Pragyan rover would gather the first on-the-ground scientific data from a region that NASA is targeting for a crewed landing in 2024.

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