Two steps from the moon....Proud of our scientists
By Lt General LN Singh
Bad luck yesterday 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 msn 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 can’t 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.
Another view is that since the terrain of moon is full of craters mostly 15-20 km diameter. Wall of the many craters are more than the height of the Mt.Everest. The Lander was communicating directly with the earth not through orbiter, hence when the Lander approach 2 km from the surface, RF signal might have obstruct by the wall of the crater. In this scenario, orbiter may connect the Lander in every revolution of orbiter.
Further failing of both Transmitter is the worst case as a lot of heat is dissipated while transmitting (while recieving comparatively - negligible). The thrusters also emits some amount of heat through the metals of lander due to which transmitter might have over heated. Result-burning of power amplifier of Tx.
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 betwixt the cup and the lip”. But never give up. Go ahead ISRO, the nation is with you.
(The author is President Manipur Thinkers Forum)
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