Scientists in India are attempting to make contact with the Vikram probe after its nerve-wracking descent to the surface of the moon last week.
The Indian Space Research Organization lost contact with the uncrewed probe when it was in the final stage of an audacious moon-landing attempt Friday.
However, K Sivan, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization, confirmed Sunday that the lander had been spotted. He told the Times of India that the space agency’s Chandrayaan-2 orbiter has spotted Vikram on the lunar service. ISRO is analyzing the data, he said.
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«It must have been a hard landing,» The Press Trust of India news agency quoted Sivan as saying Sunday.
Members of the media at the ISRO Telemetry Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) facility in Bangalore, on September 6, 2019.
(MANJUNATH KIRAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Communication with the unmanned lander was lost when it was just 1.3 miles from the lunar surface.
“All the systems and sensors of the Lander functioned excellently until this point and proved many new technologies such as variable thrust propulsion technology used in the Lander,” said ISRO, in a statement Saturday.
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However, it is not yet clear what damage the lander suffered during its descent. The U.S., Russia and China are the only other countries to have successfully landed on the moon.
Artist’s impression of Chandrayaan-2 from ISRO video.
A news report, which cited an unnamed ISRO official, indicated that the lander is intact. However, India Today subsequently reported that ISRO refused to confirm whether the lander is indeed in one piece on the lunar surface.
The Vikram lander contains the six-wheeled Pragyan rover.
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Fox News has reached out to ISRO with a request for comment on this story.
This July 22, 2019, photo released by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) shows its Geosynchronous Satellite launch Vehicle (GSLV) MkIII carrying Chandrayaan-2 lift off from Satish Dhawan Space center in Sriharikota, India.
(Indian Space Research Organisation via AP)
NASA praised the Chandrayaan-2 mission to the moon’s South Pole in a tweet Saturday. «Space is hard,» it tweeted. «You have inspired us with your journey and look forward to future opportunities to explore our solar system together.»
The roughly $140 million Chandrayaan-2 mission is intended to study permanently shadowed moon craters that are thought to contain water deposits that were confirmed by the Chandrayaan-1 mission in 2008.
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Earlier this year, Israel’s uncrewed Beresheet spacecraft crashed during a moon landing attempt.
The Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft carrying the Vikram Lander launched from Sriharikota in southern India on July 22.
India’s first lunar mission, Chandrayaan-1, orbited the moon in 2008 but did not land there. It did, however, launch an impact probe that was intentionally crashed into the moon.
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Chandrayaan-1 operated for 312 days.
The moon looms large for a number of countries’ space programs. China, for example, became the first country to successfully land a probe on the far side earlier this year when the Chang’e 4 lander reached the lunar surface on Jan. 2.
The U.S. also has its sights set on the celestial satellite and plans to land American astronauts, including the first woman, by 2024.
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The Artemis program will also establish a sustainable human presence.
NASA recently revealed details of its vision for the Artemis Moon Lander.
Speaking at Kennedy Space Center on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing on July 20, Vice President Pence announced that the Orion capsule that will take American astronauts back to the satellite is ready.
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Since Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set foot on the surface, only 10 more men, all Americans, have walked there.
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At a White House event in July, Aldrin voiced his disappointment over America’s space progress since the days of Apollo 11.
Fox News’ Chris Ciaccia, Morgan Cheung and The Associated Press contributed to this article.
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