Millennium Post

Nation rallies behind ISRO scientists

Nation rallies behind ISRO scientists

New Delhi: India's bold bid to become only the fourth country to achieve a soft landing on the Moon suffered a setback in the wee hours of Saturday when the contact with Chandrayaan-2's landing module was abruptly lost just 2.1 km above the lunar surface and seconds away.

As heartbroken scientists of the Indian Space Research Organisation(ISRO) here struggled to come to terms with the reverse after lander 'Vikram' was on a steady course to touch the lunar south pole, Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the nation in rallying behind them, saying they should not get disheartened.

India also would have been the only country to land on the Moon's unexplored south pole as part of the Rs 978 crore Chandrayaan-2 mission conceived a decade ago.

Modi, who addressed the scientists on Saturday morning at the ISRO Mission Control Centre(MCC) complex for the second time in 6 hours, asserted in words of comfort that there would be a "new dawn and better tomorrow" and the best is yet to come in the country's space programme.

The nation is proud of the scientists and stands with them, he said.

"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 scientist. India is with you," Modi said.

While millions of people waited with bated breath to witness the lander's touch down after the mission was launched on July 22 to flawlessly cover nearly 4 lakh kilometres in 47 days in multiple manoeuvres, a mood of gloom descended over the control centre after ISRO Chairman K Sivan made a sombre announcement in the presence of the prime minister after some tense moments.

The lander's progress was greeted with applause at the control centre where 60 high school students across the country were also present each time it crossed a critical phase for the planned soft-landing at around 1.55 am. The last 15 minutes of the mission when the lander attempts to guide itself with the help of its own propulsion system without any support from ground control has repeatedly been described by Sivan as "15 minutes of terror."

Leaders across political parties on Saturday hailed the dedication and passion of ISRO scientists, urging them not to be disheartened.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi lauded the ISRO scientists for their "incredible work" on the Chandrayaan 2. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal urged scientists not to lose heart.

Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday said the ISRO scientists worked hard for Chandrayaan-2 mission and the nation is with them.

Union Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani said the journey of Chandrayaan-2 so far and what lies ahead is no less than an achievement. WITH AGENCY INPUTS

MPOST BUREAU

MPOST BUREAU

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