Chandrayaan-2: Country stands by ISRO, says Congress

New Delhi: The Congress on Saturday said the country “stands by” ISRO after the space agency lost communication with its moon lander, and asserted that its effort was “not in vain” and laid the foundation for future missions.

Communications with Chandrayaan-2’s Vikram lander to ISRO’s ground station in Bengaluru were lost before touchdown while the nation eagerly awaited its soft landing on the hitherto unexplored lunar south pole in the early hours of Saturday.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi hailed ISRO scientists for their “incredible work” on the mission and said it has laid the foundation for many more “pathbreaking and ambitious” space missions. “Congratulations to the team at #ISRO for their incredible work on the Chandrayaan 2 Moon Mission. Your passion & dedication is an inspiration to every Indian. Your work is not in vain. It has laid the foundation for many more path breaking & ambitious Indian space missions,” Rahul tweeted.

The Congress, in its official Twitter handle, posted, “The nation stands by the entire team of @isro as we wait in these tense times. Your hard work and commitment has made our nation proud.”

Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel said the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) team’s dedication and hard work “is an inspiration for us.” “Team @isro, your dedication, hard work & courage is an inspiration for us. Every step you have taken has brought India closer to success & fame. The nation stand’s with you in this historic endeavour,” he tweeted.

To encourage the scientific community, he referred to what former president APJ Abdul Kalam had said: “If you fail never give up because FAIL means ‘First Attempt in Learning.’ End is not the end, in fact END means ‘effort never dies.’ If you get no as an answer, remember NO means ‘next opportunity’. So let’s be positive.”

As the powered descent of the lander began at around 1.38 am, scientists at ISRO Telemetry Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) here were glued to their terminals, anticipating the soft landing. They clapped and cheered as the moon lander completed the rough braking phase before the fine braking phase started. It was then that the situation became tense and the scientists went into a huddle.

ISRO Chairman K Sivan announced, “The Vikram lander descent was as planned and normal performance was observed up to an altitude of 2.1 km. Subsequently, communication from lander to the ground stations was lost. Data is being analysed.”

If the lander had pulled off the historic touchdown, the country could have joined the US, Russia and China in soft landing on the lunar surface. India could have also been the first to lower its lander on the hitherto unexplored south polar region of the moon.