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Thursday, Sep 19, 2019

Narendra Modi praises Isro scientists, says ‘we came close’

Though the ISRO is still analysing the data, the lander may have travelled at a faster pace than planned after it lost contact with the station.

india Updated: Sep 08, 2019 00:35 IST
Anonna Dutt
Anonna Dutt
New Delhi
The last 15 minutes of the lunar mission, which had covered 380,000 km were often described as being the most tricky in the mission.
The last 15 minutes of the lunar mission, which had covered 380,000 km were often described as being the most tricky in the mission.(HT image)
         

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who reached Bengaluru late on Friday to watch the touchdown of the moon lander Vikram, left the Mission Control Centre of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) soon after ground station lost communication link with the lander 2.1 kilometres from the moon’s surface.

The prime minister returned later on Saturday morning and delivered a nearly 30-minute long speech aired on national television, in which he praised the scientists involved in the Chandrayaan 2 mission, and underscored the many achievements of ISRO.

“Last night, I understood your frame of mind. The look in your eyes said a lot. That is why I did not stay here for long,” Modi said at the start of his speech. He, together with 84 children from India and Bhutan were present in the control room to watch the attempted soft-landing on the South Pole region of the moon.

Referring to an oft-used trope in romantic poetry, the prime minster said, “People from the literary field may even say that we have romanticised {so much} about the moon that when it came close, Vikram could not help but rush to embrace the moon.”

Though the ISRO is still analysing the data, the lander may have travelled at a faster pace than planned after it lost contact with the station.The last 15 minutes of the lunar mission, which had covered 380,000 km were often described as being the most tricky in the mission. ISRO chief K Sivan had described the final moments, when Vikram would touch down on the moon’s surface, as the most terrifying part of the mission.

In his speech, Modi recalled a number of ISRO’s successful missions, including the one to Mars and said that there was no failure in science, but only experiments and efforts. He called ISRO an “encyclopedia of successes” and said a few moments of halt cannot push its flight “out of trajectory” and that no hindrance can stop India from realising its dreams and aspiration in the 21st century.

“We came very close but we need to cover more ground in the times to come. Learning from today will make us stronger and better. The nation is proud of our space programme and scientists. The best is yet to come in our space programme. There are new frontiers to discover and new places to go. India is with you,” Modi said.

Sivan had earlier said that only 37% of attempted lunar landings had succeeded. “This is the phase, including the powered descent, that we will be doing for the first time,” he had told HT earlier.

The prime minister spoke glowingly of the ISRO scientists, who, he noted had spent sleepless nights preparing for the lunar landing. The orbiter is still in place and collecting valuable information, he noted.

After the speech, Modi hugged the visibly distraught ISRO chief, who was crying even as an emotional Modi sought to console him.

India had hoped to be just the fourth nation to achieve a soft landing on the moon, following the former Soviet Union, the US and China.

(with inputs from agencies)

First Published: Sep 07, 2019 23:49 IST