“Moonlight drowns out all but the brightest stars”, some of these brightest stars sat in the control room of Satish Dhawan Space Centre while they made history for their fellow country people and the entire mankind.
It was for the first time that a country as young as India had ambitions to soft-land on the far side of the moon, no country ever including the United States and Russia had ever attempted to land there.
ISRO Chief K.Sivan had mentioned both braking procedures prior to soft landing as “15 minutes of terror” for ISRO as after the rough braking procedure and fine braking procedure, the moon was just an arm’s length away.
However, life doesn’t teach you lessons for nothing, the Vikram lander carrying Pragyaan rover went silent 2.1 KMs over the moon, it seems Chandryaan 2 had found a new buddy to talk to about his journey.
While the attempts to contact Vikram lander continue and would be carried on for next 14 days, ISRO did something that has never happened in the story of our country so far.
It got 1.2 billion Indians glued to their TV sets, radio sets, and live streaming services to watch, hear and learn about a space mission.
“Vikram lander’s descent was as planned and normal performance was observed up to an altitude of 2.1 km. Subsequently, the communication from the lander to ground station was lost. The data is being analysed,” K Sivan declared at around 2.16 am to a room full of crestfallen scientists.
Why we haven’t failed?
If NASA were to tell its story of how it got a man on the moon, no one would believe it.
They started out with losing the initial five rounds of the space race to arch-rivals, the Soviet Union.
It was back in 2008 that ISRO fulfilled a dream of going to the moon with Chandrayaan-1. The mission of the first Chandrayaan was simple- orbit around the moon and send back images to Earth.
We had won the race to the far side of the moon, the moment we decided to go there.
ISRO indigenously developed everything for Chandrayaan-2, the launcher GSLV MACH III (Geo-synchronous launch vehicle), most heavy of the launch vehicles ever created by ISRO.
The orbiter, the lander Vikram and the rover Pragyaan, all have been developed indigenously which talk highly about India’s technological and scientific capabilities and assures it a seat at the most exclusive high table of all: the comity of space-faring nations.
If all of this has been developed in a nation that has had its own independent history of only 70 years, then it is a dream that has been realised.
Secondly, the world has acknowledged what ISRO scientists had been up to and why going to the far side of the moon is most difficult of them all.
NASA hasn’t sent a rover to the far side, Russian Space Authority hasn’t launched a mission to the far side of the moon and China has just set its foot on the nearer side of moon.
We have sent the most in-expensive orbiters to the moon, we have launched over 100 customer satellites at one go, we have been to the Mars, we are going to the Sun with Aditya-1 and we are heading for the Venus…… Finally by 2022 ISRO plans to put a man in the space with Gaganyaan-1.
So have we really failed with Chandrayaan-2? No! We are successful and we will continue to be successful.
Story of unheard heroes
This is a story of men and women of ISRO who spent sleepless nights for two months since the first small glitch in July in cryogenic-engine.
The faces of joy after the fine braking procedure told everyone-“Ab Channd Door Kahan?”
However, their efforts didn’t go in vain as many looked gloom after the Vikram went silent.
It was not time for them to shed tears and call it a failed mission, ISRO showed class, stood-up and got back to its work to get the Vikram talking again.
This was not because the Prime Minister sat and waited for the good news, it was also not for the 1.2 billion people who waited with their breath held up- It was for science, evolution, and innovation that they got back to work.
Late-night around 1:40 when the Vikram lost contact, the Prime Minister left knowing that India’s mission to the moon was in in the best hands. He came back again in the morning to raise the morale of ISRO and director K.Sivan.
He says the words that moved me and would have moved the entire nation.
He said,” We have romanticised moon so many times that after seeing its beauty, Vikram ran towards the moon as if it wanted to hug it tightly.”
He also mentioned.” “We are all proud of India’s space programme. Today, our resolve to touch the moon has grown even stronger…There will be a new dawn.”
The nation saw the most emphatic side of its Prime Minister, genuinely proud of his scientists, grateful to them for their dedication and committed to backing their vision. He set the tone for the political establishment and on social media.
Hugging and consoling ISRO director as he left, for once it’s a request to you Mr.Reader/Ms. Reader, keep Kashmir issue on side-lines, keep economic fall on the backburner and various other problems aside and see what India was going to achieve.
See the way a leader has consoled his brightest scientists and the character of strength and confidence the man has shown in ISRO, but what we have seen is that governments might attack each other in the most absurd manner- they have always talked highly about India’s space achievements.
Finally, these are the word of a man who once lived in the United States and dreamt of sending man to the moon – “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.” – John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States