A Chandrayaan-2 team member reacts, after contact with the Vikram lander is lost moments before its scheduled touchdown on the moon Saturday morning. The robotic craft apparently crashed during final descent. Image via ISRO.
India’s Chandrayaan-2 moon orbiter released a lander to the lunar surface Saturday morning (Friday, according to clocks in the Americas), but contact with the lander has apparently been lost. The lander was in the final stages of a 15-minute powered descent to the moon’s surface when contact with it abruptly broke off. The craft was just 1.3 miles (2.1 km) above the lunar surface at the time. Although, at this writing, no official statement about the loss has yet been placed on Chandrayaan-2’s update page by Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), statements from India’s prime minister strongly suggest that Vikram and Pragyan, the rover that was supposed to deploy from the lander, are dead. K. Sivan, ISRO’s chairman, said:
The Vikram lander descent was as planned, and normal performance was observed up to an altitude of 2.1 kilometers (1.3 miles). Subsequently, the communications from the lander to the ground station was lost. The data are being analyzed.
India’s prime minister Narendra Modi was observing Vikram’s landing ...