BENGALURU: When years of hard work literally came to naught for ISRO on Saturday after it lost communication with Moon lander Vikram, no amount of words could put it right for the scientists at ISTRAC here, not even a high octane inspirational speech from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Modi was with the Team Chandrayaan-2 to speak to them on Saturday morning. ISRO chairman K. Sivan could not hold his tears and broke down as the PM was about to leave. In a very visible emotional outburst, Sivan was seen in tears. Modi who also appeared to hold back his tears, told Sivan: “You should not lose heart. Do not worry. Be bold and do your best.” Sivan was accompanying Modi on his way out when on the portico the senior scientist broke down. Immediately, Modi hugged him, patted his back and held him close. A disturbed and disappointed Sivan took time to gain his composure.
Meanwhile, ISRO on Saturday said that Chandrayaan-2 has accomplished 90-95% of the mission objectives even though the lander Vikram cannot be reached and its status is not known. In a statement, ISRO said: “The success criteria was defined for each and every phase of the mission and to date 90- 95 % of the mission objectives have been accomplished and will continue to contribute to lunar science, notwithstanding the loss of communication with the Lander.” According to Sivan, the Orbiter has sufficient amount of fuel on-board for it to operate for seven years. However, the ISRO statement was silent on the reason for the deviation in the Vikram’s plotted descent chart which may not have to do with snapping of the communication link. Only a photograph of the Vikram on the moon will tell whether it crash-landed. The lander had tumbled and regained its posture minutes before it was supposed to set its legs on the lunar surface.
President Ramnath Kovind on Saturday said the ISRO team has exhibited “exemplary commitment and courage” on the Chandrayaan-2 moon mission. Chief Ministers from all across the nation on Saturday hailed ISRO for the hard work and efforts put in by the space agency and its scientists. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath took to Twitter, saying that ISRO’s “work will not go in vain”. Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar also took to the micro-blogging site, saying there were no failures, but only temporary roadblocks. While Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis hailed PM Modi’s “leadership and the way he ignited courage, hope and motivation among the scientists”, his Goa counterpart Pramod Sawant said the scientists were “among the few special ones in the world who possessed the expertise and capabilities to undertake space missions of such great magnitude”.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that he was certain that the ISRO scientists would overcome this “small setback.” While Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said there was no need to lose hope, his Punjab counterpart Amarinder Singh expressed hope for the revival of communication with the lander.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee called the Chandrayaan-2 “a befitting tribute to our founding fathers who envisioned India’s place in the league of scientifically advanced nations far ahead of their times.”