This was the view on computer screens at the Chandrayaan-2 mission control center in Bengaluru, India, just minutes before space scientists lost communications with the Vikram lander on Saturday. Image via ISRO/Space.com.
Only three nations of Earth – the former Soviet Union, the U.S. and, as of this year, China – have successfully landed spacecraft on the moon. On September 7, 2019, India hoped to become the fourth nation to soft land on the moon successfully, with the Vikram lander in its Chandrayaan-2 mission. But, only minutes before touchdown, something happened; communications with the lander were lost.
K. Sivan, chief of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), said in his first TV interview after the attempted landing:
Powered descent included four stages. The first three phases were executed nicely, but the last one was not executed in a nice way and we lost the link with the lander.
He also described the mission as 90% to 90% successful so far.
Throughout the day on Saturday, there were the inevitable comparisons of Vikram’s situation with the crash landing on the moon of Israel’s Beresheet spacecraft, in April, 2019. For example, in an article posted Saturday at PlanetarySociety.org, Jason Davis ...