India has confirmed that its moon lander Vikram has crashed into the lunar surface in September. The primary reason behind the crash was a malfunction in its braking rockets, according to the official statement.
WHAT HAPPENED TO INDIA'S VIKRAM LANDER?
India's Vikram lander crashed on Sept. 7, less than five months after the Beresheet lander of Israel crashed into the moon. The lander is a part of the lunar exploration mission of the India Space Research Organisation and installed in the Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft. The main objective of the mission is to map and study the variations of the lunar surface and find the areas where it has an abundance of water. The spacecraft was launched last Jul. 22 at Satish Dhawan Space Center and was able to reach the lunar orbit a month after on Aug. 20. The Vikram lander and the accompanying rover are scheduled to step into the near side of the moon by Sept. 6 and conduct experiments for the duration of one lunar day or equivalent to two Earth weeks.
In a press release issued by the Indian government regarding the country's attempt for a lunar landing scheduled Sept, 6, they explained that India's Vikram lander hard landed on the surface of the moon because of problems that arise in its braking thrusters. However, the India Space Research Organisation clarifies that it has only lost contact with the lander.
Jitendra Singh, minister of state for the Department of Space, through a written response to the lower house of India's Parliament, explains, "the first phase of descent was performed nominally from an altitude of 30 kilometers to 7.4 kilometers above the moon's surface." According to him, the lander slowed from 5,521 feet per second to 479 feet per second and that when it's time for the second phase of the descent, the slowing down or the reduction in velocity was more than the designed value. "Due to this deviation," he said, "the initial conditions at the start of the fine braking phase were beyond the designed parameters. As a result, Vikram hard landed within 500 meters of the designated landing site."
NOT YET THE LAST SPACE MISSION
The India Space Research Organisation (ISRO) was able to locate the crash site of India's Vikram lander last Sept. 10 through the orbiter installed on the Chandrayaan-2. However, there is no communication with it yet.
The ISRO explained that one of the reasons why the Indian government remained silent for several months regarding this issue is that they were still trying to figure out exactly what happened. According to S. Somanth, director of ISRO's Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre during the International Astronautical Congress last Oct. 21, their engineers were working on several hypotheses that can reconstruct the events that led to the loss of communication with the lander, and the ISRO was waiting for the results before making a formal announcement. Although he refused to make other declarations about the state of the Vikram lander, he recognized that the lander most probably hit the moon's surface so fast that it can no longer survive.
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