ISRO’s plan to soft land Chandrayaan-2’s Vikram lander on the moon failed to come to fruition in the early hours of Saturday, 7 September, with the lander losing communication with ground stations during its final descent.
From The New York Times to Al Jazeera, from BBC to Le Monde, here is how the international media reported the Chandrayaan setback.
NYT: Despite Not Landing, Attempt Highlights India’s Engineering Prowess
An article in The New York Times noted, “While India may not have stuck the landing on its first try, its attempt highlighted how its engineering prowess and decades of space development have combined with its global ambitions.”
The article also mentioned, “An Israeli nonprofit sent a small robotic spacecraft named Beresheet to the moon, but its landing attempt in April went awry in a manner similar to Chandrayaan-2. The makers of Beresheet and Chandrayaan-2 both noted the low cost of their missions – $100 million to $150 million, which is much cheaper than those typically launched by NASA and the European Space Agency.
NASA is currently trying to tap into entrepreneurial innovation for upcoming robotic moon missions; the first of these low-cost trips is scheduled to launch in 2021.”
Regarding the implications of the Chandrayaan setback, NYT wrote, “The outcomes of the Indian and Israeli missions highlight that lower costs can mean higher risk of failure, which NASA will need to adjust to as it pursues a lower-cost approach.”
Le Monde: Failure Risks Casting Doubt on Low-Cost Strategy
French newspaper Le Monde began its piece as follows, “A broken dream. This is what Indian newspapers were quick to post on their websites after the announcement of the worst scenario the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) could expect: the loss of communication with the Chandrayaan spacecraft -2.”
Le Monde also referenced the low-cost nature of the project, “The very likely failure of Chandrayaan-2 now risks casting doubt on India’s low-cost strategy. The mission required a total of 9.78 billion rupees (123 million euros) investment, an amount almost six times lower than the cost of the Chinese probe Chang’e-4 part explore the hidden face of the Moon at beginning of this year. To achieve such savings, the Indian rocket had left with less fuel and had to run about three weeks around the Earth to accelerate and reach the required speed for the expulsion of the probe towards the Moon. A destination that the probe apparently failed to reach.”
Washington Post: India’s First Attempt to Land on the Moon Appears to Have Failed
The Washington Post wrote, “India’s first attempt to land on the moon went awry early Saturday when the country’s space agency lost contact with the lander as it neared the lunar site, minutes before touchdown was expected.”
The article further said, “The incident could now set back India’s growing space ambitions, seen as a reflection of the aspirations of its young population. Of the 38 soft-landing attempts made on the moon, only about half have succeeded. In April, Israel attempted to land a spacecraft on the lunar surface, only to fail in the final moments. India had hoped its Chandrayaan-2 mission would make it the fourth nation to land on the moon after the United States, Russia and China.”
BBC: PM Modi Proud Despite Moon Landing Failure
In an article headlined ‘Chandrayaan-2: PM Modi Proud Despite Moon Landing Failure’, BBC reported, “Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has told his country’s space scientists he was proud of a programme that had come so near to putting a probe on the Moon. Contact with Chandrayaan-2 was lost moments before its Vikram module was due to touch down at the lunar south pole. The fate of the craft is not yet known, but Mr Modi said there would be further opportunities.”
Al Jazeera: India’s Space Agency Has Lunar Moment of Truth
Al Jazeera wrote, “With just hours left on the clock, the space agency in India – a nation of well over one billion people – was bracing for landing. Kailasavadivoo Sivan, the chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), had repeatedly referred to the last, long-awaited moments as the “15 minutes of terror”. But ISRO lost communication with its Chandrayaan-2 lunar mission on Saturday, Sivan said, in a setback to the nation’s ambitious plan to land an unmanned probe near the South Pole of the moon.”
CNN: India’s Historic Landing on Moon’s Polar Surface May Have Failed
CNN described the mood at ISRO, “The control room in the city of Bengaluru filled with scientists underwent a visible change as updates from the lander faded. The crowd had celebrated every small step during the controlled descent and at 1:55 a.m. local time on Saturday (4:25 p.m. ET Friday), the moment the landing was expected to take place, silence descended.”