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India loses contact with moon lander minutes from historic touchdown

India loses contact with moon lander minutes from historic touchdown

After tense moments at the ISTRAC centre of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), ISRO Chairman K Sivan announced that communication with the Vikram Lander was lost as it was descending.

Naturally, ISRO - India's space agency that's behind Chandrayaan-2 - is hosting its own live stream of the Vikram lander's Moon landing attempt. "Honorable Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the nation from ISRO Control Centre today (September 07, 2019) at 0800 hrs IST", ISRO said in a tweet.

Even the Union Home Minister Amit Shah, on Saturday, said that ISRO's achievement with the spacecraft so far has made every Indian proud.

India was trying to become the fourth nation to place a spacecraft softly on the lunar surface, after Russian Federation, the United States, and China. It's taken over six weeks to get there, thanks to the more fuel-efficient slingshot technique used by Chandrayaan-2, which meant it spent three weeks orbiting the Earth before launching itself towards the Moon.

Part of the Chandrayaan-2 mission, an orbiter, remains in operation. The orbiter is about 62 miles from the moon's surface.

Long, tense minutes stretched out inside the mission control center for the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), which designed the Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft.

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This is important because it could determine whether having people live on the Moon is feasible, said Mathieu Weiss, a representative in India for France's space agency CNES.

ISRO acknowledged before the landing, due to occur at about 1.55am New Delhi time was a complex manoeuvre, with Sivan calling it "15 minutes of terror".

The lander was supposed to release a small solar-powered rover equipped with instruments to collect and analyze the moon's 4-billion-year-old soil. "It cost less than United States dollars 150 million, cheaper than the budget to make the 2014 Hollywood film "Interstellar", the daily reported".

The US space community believes that the landmark mission would help them enrich their understanding of the moon's geology.

The country's first Moon mission - Chandrayaan-1, in 2008 - carried out the first and most detailed search for water on the lunar surface using radars.

Should the Chandrayaan-2 lander Vikram manage an ideal landing, ISRO plans to roll out the Pragyan lunar rover - that's the thing that will actually make those aforementioned observations - a few hours later.


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