Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday praised the Chandrayaan-2 Team for their efforts in the moon landing mission and said India’s space program will bounce back strong from the apparent failure of Friday's lunar landing attempt.
The Chandrayaan-2 moon orbiter dropped a lander called Vikram toward the lunar surface Friday afternoon.
Everything went well for a while, but mission controllers lost contact with Vikram when the craft was just 1.3 miles (2.1 kilometers) above the gray dirt, Space.com says in a report.
As of this writing, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) had still not officially declared Vikram lost; the latest ISRO update stated that descent data are still being analyzed.
But Modi's comments strongly suggest that Vikram and Pragyan, the rover that was supposed to deploy from the lander, are dead, the report says.
“We came very close, but we will need to cover more ground in the times to come,” Mr. Modi said during an address to the nation that was webcast live Friday night. “As important as the final result is the journey and the effort. I can proudly say that the effort was worth it, and so was the journey.”
He also heaped praise on the Chandrayaan-2 team, emphasizing that the scientists and engineers were going after ambitious firsts — India's first moon landing, and the first touchdown attempt so close to the lunar south pole.
“To our scientists, I want to say, India is with you. You are exceptional professionals who have made an incredible contribution to national progress,” Mr. Modi said as quoted by Space.com. “True to your nature, you ventured into a place where no one had ever been before.”
To date, just three nations have soft-landed a spacecraft on the moon — the Soviet Union/Russia, the United States and China, according to Space.com.