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India's moon mission locates landing craft

China Daily | Updated: 2019-09-11 07:39

NEW DELHI - Indian space scientists on Tuesday were desperately trying to establish communication with their broken moon lander that went silent moments before it was due to make a historic soft landing.

The fresh image of the crash-landed lander, called Vikram - after the founder of India's space program - was said to have been obtained by the onboard camera of the unmanned moon orbiter, which continues to be in a perfect condition.

"The lander is there as a single piece, not broken into pieces. It's in a tilted position," media reports quoted an Indian official as saying.

India's moon mission locates landing craft

The lander was due to touch down on the moon in the early hours of Saturday, but contact was lost when it was around 2.1 kilometers above the surface of the moon.

The Indian Space Research Organisation, or ISRO, tweeted an update on its Chandrayaan-2 mission, which blasted off in July with India hoping to become just the fourth country to make a successful soft lunar landing.

"#VikramLander has been located by the orbiter of #Chandrayaan-2, but no communication with it yet. All possible efforts are being made to establish communication with lander," the space agency said.

The emerging Asian giant's most complex space mission, carrying an orbiter, lander and rover, was almost entirely designed and made in India - and cost a relatively modest $140 million.

Indian media reports have said that the lander suffered a "hard landing", possibly damaging it and the rover vehicle inside.

The Press Trust of India news agency reported on Monday that the lander was unbroken but was lying tilted on the lunar surface, and that the chances of restoring communication were low.

"Unless and until everything is intact, it's very difficult (to re-establish contact)," the agency quoted an unnamed ISRO official as saying.

"Only if it had a soft landing, and if all systems functioned, could communication can be restored. Things are bleak," the official said.

The ISRO was not immediately available to comment on the claims.

Only the United States, Russia and China have made successful soft landings on the moon, and India had hoped to be the first on the lunar South Pole.

Agencies - Xinhua

(China Daily 09/11/2019 page11)

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