New Delhi: Instead of the desired soft-landing, Chandrayaan-2’s Vikram lander hard-landed as its velocity during the landing reduced suddenly, it has been revealed in Centre’s recent reply to the Lok Sabha over the curious case of the missing Vikram.

In a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha, Jitendra Singh, the minister of state in the Prime Minister’s Office, who looks after the department of space, said the first phase of descent was performed nominally from an altitude of 30 kms to 7.4 kms above the moon’s surface and velocity was reduced from 1,683 metres per second to 146 metres per second, PTI reported.

“During the second phase of descent, the reduction in velocity was more than the designed value. Due to this deviation, the initial conditions at the start of the fine braking phase were beyond the designed parameters. As a result, Vikram hard-landed within 500 metres of the designated landing site,” he said.

Mr Singh, however, said most components of technology demonstration, including the launch, orbital critical manoeuvres, lander separation, de-boost and rough braking phase were successfully accomplished.

The indigenously developed Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft comprising orbiter, lander and rover was successfully launched on board the indigenous GSLV MK III-M1 Mission on July 22.

After accomplishing four earth-bound manoeuvres and trans-lunar injection, the spacecraft was successfully inserted in the lunar orbit on August 20. A series of moon-bound manoeuvres were then carried out to achieve a Lunar orbit of 119 x 127 km.

The Lander ”Vikram” was separated, as planned, from the Orbiter on September 2 2019. Contact with the Chandrayaan-2 lander Vikram was lost when it was far closer to the lunar surface than what has been assumed

Meanwhile, ISRO has started working on the next iteration of the project, tentatively called Chandrayaan-3. The deadline of the said project is said to be November 2020.

(With PTI Inputs)