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Chandrayaan-2’s Orbiter Continues India’s Bold Lunar Mission

Sept. 8, 2019 (EIRNS)—Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) Chairman Dr. K. Sivan reported today that Chandrayaan-2’s orbiter had located the Vikram lunar lander on the Moon’s surface. ISRO scientists will attempt to reestablish communication with Vikram during the next 14 sunlit Earth days.

The Chandrayaan-2 mission is far from a failure. ISRO emphasized in its latest update, issued yesterday, that “90% to 95% of the mission objectives have been accomplished and will continue to contribute to lunar science, notwithstanding the loss of communication with the lander.” The orbiter is performing well, and has sufficient fuel to function for far longer than its original projected life of one year. ISRO scientists now estimated it could function for as long as 7.5 years, because its fuel has been used economically.

That ISRO update pointed to the boldness of the mission:

“Chandrayaan-2 mission was a highly complex mission, which represented a significant technological leap compared to the previous missions of ISRO, which brought together an Orbiter, Lander and Rover to explore the unexplored South Pole of the Moon.

“Since the launch of Chandrayaan-2 on July 22, 2019, not only India but the whole world watched its progress from one phase to the next with great expectations and excitement. This was a unique mission which aimed at studying not just one area of the Moon but all the areas, combining the exosphere, the surface as well as the sub-surface of the Moon in a single mission.

“The Orbiter has already been placed in its intended orbit around the Moon and shall enrich our understanding of the Moon’s evolution and mapping of the minerals and water molecules in the Polar Regions, using its eight state-of-the-art scientific instruments. The Orbiter camera is the highest resolution camera (0.3m) in any lunar mission so far and shall provide high resolution images which will be immensely useful to the global scientific community....

“The Vikram Lander followed the planned descent trajectory from its orbit of 35 km to just below 2 km above the surface. All the systems and sensors of the Lander functioned excellently until this point and proved many new technologies such as variable thrust propulsion technology used in the Lander....”

As Indian media have pointed out, according to NASA’s “Moon Fact Sheet,” of the 109 lunar missions since 1958, only 60% have been fully successful.

NASA tweeted its respect for ISRO’s endeavor on Sept. 7:

“Space is hard. We commend ISRO’s attempt to land their #Chandrayaan2 mission on the Moon’s South Pole. You have inspired us with your journey and look forward to future opportunities to explore our solar system together.”

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