Bhubaneshwar: Despite a failure to re-establish contact with Chandryaan-2’s lander ‘Vikram’ even as the moon will enter into its lunar night on September 22, ISRO Chief K Sivan on Saturday said that that the mission was a success as it has achieved 98 per cent of its objectives. Also Read - Chandrayaan-2: ISRO Has Just a Week to Relink With Lander Vikram, Hopes Fade as Situation Looks 'Less Probable'
He also stressed that Chandrayaan-2 orbiter was doing well and performing scheduled science experiments. Also Read - NASA joins ISRO's effort to establish communication with Vikram, Chandrayaan-2's moon lander
Sivan asserted that the unmanned moon mission by next year is now a priority, adding that scientists are still trying to understand the reason behind communication loss. Also Read - Chandrayaan-2: 'All Efforts Being Made to Establish Communication With Lander Vikram,' Says ISRO
“Why we are saying Chandrayaan-2 achieved 98% success is because of two objectives — one is science and the other technology demonstration. In case of technology demonstration, the success percentage was almost full,” PTI reported Sivan as telling reporters at the Bhubaneswar airport.
“Discussion is on about the future plan… nothing is finalised. Our priority is on an unmanned mission by next year. First, we have to understand what exactly happened to the lander,” he said.
K Sivan said that the 2nd unmanned human space plane is being targeted for July, 2021. “By December 2021 the first Indian will be carried out, by our own rocket, to space. This is our target, everybody at ISRO is working on that,” he said.
“There are questions – in what way Gaganyaan is going to be useful? Gaganyaan is extremely important for India as it’ll boost the science&technology capability of the country. By 2020 December we’re going to have the first unmanned mission of human spaceplane,” he added.
Sivan added that the cause of the communication loss with ‘Vikram’ is being analysed by a national-level committee comprising academicians and ISRO experts. He said that as soon as they receive any data on the same, necessary steps will be taken.
“Orbiter continues to perform scheduled science experiments to complete satisfaction. There are eight instruments in the orbiter and each instrument is doing exactly what it is meant to do,” he added.
On September 7, lander Vikram on its descent to soft-land on the Moon’s south polar region lost control and crash-landed snapping the communication links with scientists monitoring the mission from ISRO’s ground station.
India’s ambitious lunar mission, Chandrayaan-2 was launched from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota on July 22. On August 20, the ISRO successfully fired the liquid engine of Chandrayaan-2 and inserted the spacecraft in the lunar orbit from the earth orbit.
On September 2, the Vikram lander successfully separated from the Orbiter to reach the lunar surface. However, on September 7, the mission suffered a setback when the Vikram lander lost its communication with the ground stations, just 2.1 km above the lunar surface.
It must be noted that the moon will soon enter its night, and the temperature on the lunar surface will drop significantly (can go down to -200 degrees celsius). The rover was not designed to stand that low a temperature and hence, might get damaged. Therefore, the ISRO had established September 21 as the deadline to establish contact with the lander.