Moon mission setback temporary

The mission has been seen as having achieved 95% success because it has proved many capabilities and accomplished many of the aims

It was not only the scientists and engineers of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) but the entire nation that was disappointed with the failure of the Chandrayaan-2 mission’s moon lander, Vikram, to make a soft landing on the lunar surface. With about 2.1 km to cover and just seconds remaining for the touchdown, the lander lost contact with ground stations and its fate remains unknown, although ISRO now has thermal images of the lander taken from the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter. In the conventional sense, the mission may be considered a failure because its main aim, which was to explore the lunar soil for water and minerals, may not be achieved now. But a scientific expedition of the size and complexity of a lunar mission, which has many parts, stages, instruments and processes, cannot be judged on its main goal only. The launch of the Chandrayaan-2 mission was flawless, though it was postponed once, and it reached the moon’s orbit and the lander successfully separated from the orbiter. The glitch happened only in the last stage. 

The mission has been seen as having achieved 95% success because it has proved many capabilities and accomplished many of the aims. The orbiter is healthy and functioning normally and will continue to send images and valuable information about the moon. Lunar missions of other countries have also suffered failures in the past. US space agency NASA has put its success ratio in the last six decades at 60%. In April, an Israeli spacecraft crashed onto the moon while attempting a soft landing. The Vikram lander, too, is believed to have crashed.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was present at Bengaluru’s ISRO facility to watch the landing. He voiced the views and sentiments of the nation when he consoled ISRO Chairman K Sivan, told ISRO scientists and engineers not to be disheartened and showed confidence in the space agency’s ability to bounce back. ISRO has suffered serious setbacks in the past but has emerged stronger, learning from failures. It is the willingness to learn from failures and the dedication and hard work put in by ISRO’s scientists and engineers and the backing of successive governments that has taken the nation’s space programme from its humble beginnings to the moon and Mars in six decades. These very strengths will ensure that ISRO will finish the unfinished agenda of Chandrayaan-2 and go further in future missions. As Modi said, there are new frontiers to explore, new places to go. A complete success of Chandrayaan-2 would have lifted the nation’s spirits at a time of gathering gloom over a possible crash-landing of the economy and other worries, but there is no reason to lose hope and confidence.  

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