TODAY -

Two steps from the moon...: Proud of our scientists and ISRO

Lt General LN Singh *



Bad luck that the Vikram lander signals was lost when it was just 2.1 km from lunar surface. The final retro engine probably failed and the lander has hit the surface at high speed - crashed. The orbiter is still functioning normally & will still give us valuable mapping data.

I also very much appreciate the leadership quality on the part of our PM Shri Modi Ji to revisit the ISRO HQ at 8 AM and boosting the morale of our ISRO scientists. He was emphatic to take failure as learning and entire INDIA is with ISRO.

Really inspiring leader and shares happiness as well as failures with the TEAM (ISRO).

We have to be charitable when there is a set back. We will succeed next time. What they have achieved so far is commendable. Failures are experienced only by those who try. The Israeli moon mission too failed on 11 Apr 19. Google had donated 30mn USD, besides other sources of funds.

Remember even the US had failures with Challenger in 1986 and the US space shuttle Columbia disaster.

Proud of ISRO for their efforts. 40 lacs kms travelled but contact lost in last 2.1 km..

The success achieved so far is a great news. Still hoping for the best.

Well done India. Proud of our space scientists. Never mind these failures, these little backslidings; hold the ideal a thousand times, and if you fail a thousand times, make the attempt once more.

After a failed attempt to conquer Mount Everest Sir Edmund Hillary remarked, I will come again and conquer you because as a mountain you cant grow, but as a human I can. Rest is history and lesson is to keep trying until you achieve your dream.

It is unfortunate that our moon- landing mission seems to have gone awry; the communication was lost. There are many possibilities and guesses are as discussed subsequently.

The Worst Case: It was a 'hard landing', due to failure of thrusters (braking thrusters not fired for proper duration), or software malfunction. If true, the spacecraft crash- landed and that means the end of the communications and the lander-rover part of the mission. There is no recovery from a crash- landing.

The Best Case: There is a 'hangup in the communication' channel; maybe transmitter has a bad switch or software failure. There is a chance that the onboard computer may correct the the issue and start communication again. However, that 'presumes a proper soft-landing.'

But the chances of failed transmitter are low, as there are two transmitters on board and if one fails, the software automatically switches the other on, or both may have been turned on for landing communications.

The Moon Orbiter, however, should have picked up the signal and relayed back to Control Center.

Assessment from experts are that, it was a crash-landing, or else, we would at least have some communication.

ISRO can use the orbiter, or request NASA Moon Orbiter to get the pictures of the Indian Lander, to determine the state of the Chandrayan Lander and review of data/telemetry, to conclude the cause of failure and learn from it.

One is reminded of the often quoted proverb "There's many-a-slip between the cup and the lip". But never give up. Go ahead ISRO, the nation is with you.


* Lt General LN Singh wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on Septemner 12, 2019 .


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