Chandrayaan 2: Hope & despair

RK Sinha
There is a saying “Slip between the cup and the lip”. It was exactly like that when on September 7 Mission Chandrayaan 2 lost communication with ISRO just before landing on the Moon. Had it been alright with landing India would have been the first country in the world to have its lander on the south pole of the Moon. However, nobody should doubt the capability of our Scientists involved in the mission. We will succeed one day. Before this the United States of America, Russia and China had conducted successful soft landing on the Moon. But no country had attempted to land its mission on the south pole of the Moon. Chnadrayaan 2 lander Vikram did land on the South Pole but in what way. Reasons are being found out by our ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) scientists.
ISRO Chairman K Sivan said on Tuesday that attempts are being made to establish contact with the lander Vikram which is intact but in a tilted position on the Moon’s surface.
As you all know on the night of September 6-7 we lost contact with the lander minutes before landing when it was just 2.1 kilometer away from the landing site. We have some details of the lander Vikram from the Orbiter which is successfully moving in the orbit of Moon.
Though lander Vikram is intact it might be possible that some of its parts got damaged during the landing which was ‘hard’ on the surface. In the past there have been a few instances when contact was established in space after it lost signal with ground station. But in the case of lander Vikram it appears rather difficult to establish contact due to its tilted position and damage to some parts. It is difficult to change the position of the lander now.
The antenna of the lander should be towards ISRO or towards the Orbiter then only it is possible to establish contact again with it. Power is not a problem with lander which is equipped with solar panels. Batteries in it are fully charged since they have not been used so far.
Hope for Rover is almost over this is what a space scientist P K Ghosh who has retired from service has said. In the tilted position of the lander it is impossible to bring out the rover from inside the lander on the Moon’s surface.
Mission Chandrayaan 2 has three components- the orbiter, the lander and the rover. Rover was inside the lander. The rover Pragyan was to move on the surface of the Moon minutes after landing of the  Lander Vikram. Orbiter while making round of the Moon in a close orbit is doing its experiment successfully. All the stages of the mission have been perfect except the last moment landing of Vikram which made hard landing on the surface of the moon.
The manner in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi encouraged and boosted the morale of ISRO scientists deserves all praise. He told our Scientists not to feel disheartened over obstructions on way to the final stage of the mission. There will be new morning. One could see visible signs of hope and confidence on faces of our Scientists present at the command station of ISRO. His words “Every difficulty, every struggle and every obstacle teach new lessons inspiring us for new invention and new technology. This leads us to success ahead. The biggest teacher of knowledge is science. There is no failure in science it is only experimentation and attempts. We have to learn from this. One day we will definitely succeed. Such experiments always encourage us and teach us to face difficulties in future. It is alright today we have not gone to the Moon but any poet who will write poem on Moon in today’s development of our mission will acknowledge that we have described the whole episode of mission in such a beautiful manner that Chandrayaan 2 itself has become an object of beauty. May be in order to embrace Moon it made a hurried landing”. Prime Minister was emotional when he embraced ISRO head Sivan and was seen patting him for long.  A national head should be like him.
It was a historic day for India indeed. There are three types of people who make attempt to achieve such goal. At the bottom are such people who apprehending failure never start work to achieve the goal. At the middle of the ladder are such people who start work but the moment they face hurdle they abandon the project and flee. And at the top are those people who once start work would rest only after achieving their goal. ISRO scientists belong to this class of people who are at the top of the ladder.
I remember these lines of a couplet- I have travelled to reach my destination by walking, falling and getting up to walk again to reach the destination.
Though the last stage of the mission of Chandrayaan 2 was not on the expected line yet it was a grand mission. The Orbiter is still making the rounds of the Moon sending pictures and vital information to our command station and has successfully located the lander Vikram on Moon’s surface. We are trying to revive the lander.
The writer is a Member of Rajya Sabha