ISRO’s Chandrayaan 2: What went wrong with Vikram lander? More details emerge

FE Online
Chandrayaan 2, ISRO, K Sivan, Chandrayaan 3, Vikram Lander, moon mission, space, space mission

ISRO’s Chandrayaan 2 mission centre. September 7, 2019. Millions watched as the screen froze. 1.3 billion hearts broke while a room-full of ISRO scientists watched Chandrayaan's Vikram lander tilting 410 degrees instead of the stipulated 55 degrees. Since Vikram was landing on autonomous mode, the scientists were mere helpless spectators as their mission seemed to literally take a pitfall.

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However, as every cloud has a silver lining, the ISRO scientists have taken it in a stride and are learning from the past. The Vikram lander had transmitted its performance data until it was 400 metres away from the landing. With the help of this data, ISRO is confident of turning Chandrayaan 3 into a success.

An IE report has quoted a scientist at the organization as saying that they have been able to gather a lot of data on the hard landing of Vikram for analysis and this data is valuable and will ensure the success of the next mission.

Nobody would provide this kind of data for a space mission and the failed landing of Vikram was a great learning experience, the IE report further quoted the scientist as saying.

Chandrayaan 2 was ISRO's maiden attempt at achieving soft landing on the lunar surface, but the mission failed when the organization lost contact with the lander 400 metres before the landing.

Had it gone right, India would have become the fourth country, after the US, Russia and China, to carry out a successful landing on the lunar surface. India would have also been the first country to successfully carry out a landing on the south pole of the moon.

The lander's velocity was supposed to be reduced from 6,000 km/hr to 0 km/hr in four phases to be carried out within a span of 15 minutes. However, during the second phase, the velocity was not reduced as desired, which the third phase could not handle, said ISRO chief K Sivan on January 1 this year in his first official statement on the failure of landing Vikram.

The Indian space research organization, ISRO, has started working on the Chandrayaan 3 mission, which has been slated for November this year but could also spill over to the next year, Sivan had said.

While Chandrayaan 2 was developed at a cost of Rs 978 crore, including the cost of the spacecraft and the rocket launcher, Chandrayaan 3 will be developed at an estimated Rs 250 crore. For Chandrayaan 3, the orbiter from Chandrayaan 2 mission would be functional, only mandating a lander and a rover for the organization's second attempt at soft lunar landing.