Issue :   
Happy Dussehra and Diwali to all Readers.          October 2019 Edition of Power Politics is updated.
Issue:June' 2019


ISRO : Attaining new heights


F ear gripped half an hour on the wee hours of Saturday, the 7 September at the ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network Centre (ISTRAC) in the southern Indian city of Bengaluru just missed making history in its quest to chase the moon. The entire world was aware of the technical challenges Indian Space Research Organisation had to encounter in soft landing the Vikram Lander on the south pole of the moon.
It all happened in a matter of 30 minutes. The joy and anticipation of ISRO scientists and engineers who had worked day and night on Chandrayaan-2 to explore the moon turned to dismay and sorrow when ISRO lost contact with Vikram when the lander was just 1.2 miles (2 kilometres) above the lunar surface. The failure of soft landing of lander Vikram on the south pole of the moon in their quest for supremacy in the space odyssey is but a temporary setback.
ISRO’s space odyssey and its quest to explore the moon has made the country proud. The Chandrayaan -2 in its quest to explore the south pole at the dark side of the moon has greater importance as far as space excavation is concerned. It may have had a setback, but in the space race globally, India has proven its superiority by its deep understanding of the lunar planet. As the moon is the nearest planet to earth , ISRO’s interest goes beyond the moon and more. As the world celebrates its 50 years of journey to the moon, India’s Moon mission is a leap forward in its capability of reaching unexplored parts of the moon.

It was a dream moon chase by the scientists at ISRO controlling and manoeuvring the orbiter at a distance of over 3.5 lakh kilometres. But ISRO’s Chandrayaan -2, the bold venture to soft land on the craters of Chandamama suffered a setback with its Vikram lander losing communication with tracking centres just 2.1 km from the lunar surface during its final descent proved it as one of the very difficult and challenging lunar missions. dynamics and failure has found success in this mission. Modi’s very symbolic gesture of staying with the ISRO has become a symbol of nation’s quest to achieve more. As a consequence the country stood by ISRO and gave an ovation to its moon chase.
The entire world watched and appreciated ISRO’s space quest and desi technology which placed an indelible mark in its space superiority. Apart from lauding the moon mission and the efforts of ISRO community, the “ISRO spirit” lives on encouraging the entire scientific community and team ISRO led by K Sivan.
This is a major shift from the routine policy of the government a stakeholder in science and technology development. This gives impact to the make in India concept and its cascading effect on more desi research dynamics.

Narendra Modi talks to Indian Space Research Organisation
chief K. Siva
Even though very upset with the fact that Vikram lost its contact, ISRO chief K Sivan said ‘till 2.1 km above the surface of the Moon, the mission was doing fine but before Vikram could land, ISRO lost contact with it’. “While it at first glance it may seem like the mission has failed that is far from true'' he added giving the real picture of its success.
Chandrayaan -2 has as commended by the world leaders in Space has a success rate of 90 to 95 in every phase of the mission and it would continue contributing to Lunar science , notwithstanding the loss of communication with the Lander.

“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," ISRO said in an update release.

In the process of all these developments, orbiter has already been placed in its intended orbit around the Moon. "It shall enrich our understanding of the moon’s revolution and mapping of the minerals and water molecules in the Polar Regions, using its eight state-ofthe-art scientific instruments," ISRO said.

"The orbiter camera is the highest resolution camera (0.3m) in any lunar mission so far and shall provide high resolution images which will be immensely useful to the global scientific community," ISRO said adding that the precise launch and mission management has ensured a long life of almost 7 years instead of the planned one year.

Chandrayaan-2, a follow-on mission to the Chandrayaan-1 venture launched more than a decade ago, had an orbiter, lander (Vikram) and rover (Pragyan). A space scientist at ISRO involved in the mission said the mission objective of Chandrayaan-2 is to develop and demonstrate the key technologies for end-to-end lunar mission capability, including soft-landing and roving on the lunar surface.

According to ISRO the mission was to explore unexplored areas of the moon to find answers to many unanswered questions so far. ISRO said “On the science front, this mission aims to further expand our knowledge about the Moon through a detailed study of its topography, mineralogy, surface chemical composition, thermo-physical characteristics and atmosphere leading to a better understanding of the origin and evolution of the Moon”.

Chandrayaan -2 is a very complex mission aimed at studying not just one area of the Moon but all the areas combining the exosphere (outermost layer of the earth's atmosphere), the surface as well as the sub-surface of the moon in a single mission. The challenge for the ISRO scientists was to soft land the rover on the south pole of the Moon which many lunar missions have failed.

It was July 22nd, Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV MkIII-M1) built by ISRO successfully launched the 3840 kg Chandrayaan- 2 into an earth orbit from the Second Launch Pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR (SDSC SHAR), Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. About 16 minutes 14 seconds after lift-off, the vehicle injected Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft into an elliptical earth orbit. Immediately after spacecraft separation from the vehicle, the solar array of the spacecraft automatically got deployed and ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC), Bengaluru successfully took control of the spacecraft.

A unique mission

Even though the significant 47 days journey of Indian pride Chandrayaan -2 which did not create history is the first bold Lunar mission in the world to explore the dark side of the moon. Chandrayaan-2 mission was a highly complex mission, which represented a significant technological leap compared to the previous missions of ISRO, which brought together an Orbiter, Lander and Rover to explore the unexplored south pole of the Moon. Since the launch of Chandrayaan-2 on July 22, 2019, not only India but the whole world watched its progress from one phase to the next with great expectations and excitement. This was a unique mission which aimed at studying not just one area of the Moon but all the areas combining the exosphere, the surface as well as the sub-surface of the moon in a single mission.
The Orbiter has already been placed in its intended orbit around the Moon and will enrich more understanding of the moon’s evolution and mapping of the minerals and water molecules in the Polar Regions, using its eight state-of-the-art scientific instruments. The Orbiter camera is the highest resolution camera (0.3m) in any lunar mission so far and shall provide high resolution images which will be immensely useful to the global scientific community.
The precise launch and mission management has ensured a long life of almost 7 years instead of the planned one year. The Vikram Lander followed the planned descent trajectory from its orbit of 35 km to just below 2 km above the 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.
The success criteria was defined for each and every phase of the mission and till date 90 to 95 per cent of the mission objectives have been accomplished and will continue contribute to Lunar science , notwithstanding the loss of communication with the Lander.

Modi, a hug and ISRO Spirit

PM Modi's emotional
moment with ISRO chief
Prime Minister Narendra Modi who sat through the entire proceedings of the operation of Chandrayaan- 2, ISRO’s pride Moon Mission, has made possible the failure as a success. His presence at the ISTRAC, a perception change has helped the scientific c o m m u n i t y overcome the disappointment for the loss of communication with lander Vikram but sourced this as a major success as a mission. This gesture gave team ISRO a morale booster a need of the hour.
The image of Prime Minister’s hug of sobbing, disappointed and heartbroken ISRO chief K Sivan which went viral has taken the ISRO’s image to a new height. The social media was full of praises for ISRO and Modi for his encouragement to the team ISRO. This has put ISRO on a new pedestal making moon mission a success. Modi who was there with the team ISRO along with country’s top scientists lauded the success of Chandrayaan -2 and motivated them to continue their work in their space missions. Addressing the scientific community, he said “ There are ups and downs in life. This is not a small achievement. The nation is proud of you. Hope for the best. I congratulate you. You all have done a big service to nation, science and mankind. I am with you all the way, move forward bravely. Hope for the best”.

Prime Minister Modi the day after his visit to ISRO at a political rally at Rohtak in Haryana recollected the achievements of ISRO and moon mission called it’s the spirit of ISRO a concept united the nation in supporting the endeavour of the team ISRO. This again went viral in the social media making moon mission a mission of the nation but not a failed mission. He was addressing a mammoth crowd at his Vijay Sankalp rally.

Modi said "Just like there is a sportsman spirit, now there is ISRO spirit. Those 100 seconds showed that people no longer accept mediocrity. People now want change. Those 100 seconds have changed the definition of success." “There was a new kind of wonder on September 7, when people of the country were glued to their televisions at 1:46 am. At 1:50, people watched TV in anticipation that the mission will be a success. Those 100 seconds, awakened the entire nation," PM Modi defined this as the ISRO spirit. He also said a total number of 38 soft landing attempts have been made, so far with a success rate of 52 per cent.


  • Moon provides the best linkage to Earth’s early history. It offers an undisturbed historical record of the inner Solar system environment. Though there are a few mature models, the origin of the Moon still needs further explanations. Extensive mapping of the lunar surface to study variations in lunar surface composition is essential to trace back the origin and evolution of the Moon.
  • Evidence for water molecules discovered by Chandrayaan-1, requires further studies on the extent of water molecule distribution on the surface, below the surface and in the tenuous lunar exosphere to address the origin of water on Moon.

The lunar South Pole is especially interesting because of the lunar surface area here that remains in shadow are much larger than that at the North Pole. There is a possibility of the presence of water in permanently shadowed areas around it. In addition, South Pole region has craters that are cold traps and contain a fossil record of the early Solar System.

The Chandrayaan-2 has achieved 95 per cent of its mission objectives, the lander's unsuccessful bid to touch-down on the Lunar surface notwithstanding. And this all thanks to the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter.

Chandrayaan-2 lander which failed to land made up only 5 per cent of mission 95 per cent of the mission will be carried out by orbiter which is successfully in its place. Orbiter can take pictures of the moon and send them to ISRO.

The Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft comprised three segments the Orbiter (weighing 2,379 kg, eight payloads), 'Vikram' (1,471 kg, four payloads) and 'Pragyan' (27 kg, two payloads).

Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III, or the GSLV Mk-III, the biggest and most powerful rocket in India's space garage carried with it the orbiter, lander and rover. The GSLV Mk-III successfully launched the orbiter. The spacecraft proved itself worthy of the title "Bahubali".

(Source ISRO and other agencies)

“It is a big achievement”

Asked how he looked at the Indian Moon mission -2, former ISRO Chairman G Madhavan Nair told Power Politics,

G Madhavan “There is a slight disappointment at the final event. If you look at the overall scenario, there are several elements in this. One, is using GSLV MK- 3 being used for the first time. It has gone on very well and has performed beyond what we expected. It’s the first time we are orbiting at 100 km continuously. Orbiter has got 8-9 very complicated instruments on board and its mission can be completely carried out. Even the lander, I don’t call it a complete failure. It is a big achievement coming near the moon’s surface. The final image that was taken shows that it fell 500 mts from away from where we had originally intended for it to land. Only the last event, that part got into trouble. Overall it was 95 per cent successful.”

On the manned mission to the moon and other space missions, he said,

“We are planning immediate manned mission to go around the earth. It is going well, we are working on it. This mission is totally independent of Chandrayaan . The only common element is that we are going to use GSLV MK- 3. The activities for the earth mission are also completely new.”

On foreign agency responses, Nair said,

“They know the complexity involved through their own experience. With respect to that they said India has crossed a big milestone. That’s a global recognition for the Indian programme.”

World Media reaction

Foreign media has applauded ISRO in its daring effort to explore the moon on its south pole. It proves Indian space venture and supremacy in space.

According to the US online edition of the magazine “Wired”, “ all is not lost for the for the mission. "The loss of the Vikram lander and the Pragyan rover it was carrying to the lunar surface would be a big blow for India's space program...But all is not lost for the mission," Wired reported.

New York Times said “India's "engineering prowess and decades of space development have combined with its global ambitions." However, while referring to Chandrayaan-2 lander's inability to soft land on the lunar surface as a "partial failure", The New York Times wrote, "an orbiter remains in operation - would delay the country's bid to join an elite club of nations that have landed in one piece on the moon's surface."

French daily, “ Le Monde” mentioned the success rate of soft landing on the moon, but in percentage. It said, "So far, scientists point out, only 45 per cent of missions aimed at alleviating have been successful."

Le Monde started its article with the words "A broken dream" and said that the Indian newspapers "were quick to titrate their websites, after announcing the worse scenario that could expect the Indian Space Research Organization..." The website quoted an expert from National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) who had said, "Imagine a spaceship crossing the space at a speed ten times faster than an airplane, and almost stopping to land softly on the Earth - all in minutes and, more importantly, without any human intervention."

"The ship Chandrayaan-2 will have known a hard destiny," the website further added mentioning the first attempt to liftoff Chandrayaan-2 on July 15, the plan was aborted after ISRO cited a "technical snag" as the reason to stop the countdown just 56 minutes before the take off.

British newspaper, “The Guardian”, in its article titled “India's moon landing suffers lastminute communications loss,” quoted Mathieu Weiss, a representative in India for France's space agency CNES, as saying, "India is going where probably the future settlements of humans will be in 20 years, in 50 years, 100 years."

The Washington Post wrote, 'India loses contact with its lander as it attempted to land on the moon' as its header. "The incident could now set back India's growing space ambitions, seen as a reflection of the aspirations of its young population," the article read.

The American daily further said, "Of the 38 softlanding attempts made on the moon, only about half have succeeded... 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."

India's historic landing on moon's polar surface may have failed-- was the headline of the CNN. "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, the moment the landing was expected to take place, silence descended," CNN reported referring to the silence that stuck the mission operations complex at the ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network in Bengaluru after the despair flared through faces of the scientists.

Namira Salim Namira Salim, the first Pakistani woman astronaut, has congratulated the Indian Space and Research Organisation (ISRO) on the Chandrayaan2 mission and its historic attempt to make a landing on the Moon.
In a statement to digital science magazine Scientia, Salim said “I congratulate India and ISRO on its historic attempt to make a successful soft landing of the Vikram Lander at the South Pole of the Moon.
“The Chandaryaan 2 lunar mission is indeed a giant leap for South Asia which not only makes the region but the entire global space industry proud,” she added.

Salim further said, “Regional developments in the Space sector in South Asia are remarkable and no matter which nation leads — in space, all political boundaries dissolve and in space — what unites us, overrides, what divides us on Earth.”

She is the first Pakistani to have travelled to the North and South poles and the first Asian to skydive (in tandem) from Mount Everest. Salim hoisted a peace flag on behalf of the nation at the two poles of the world.

(Source : newspapers and agencies)

At present, the high power committee is analysing the mission and would probably find the answer to swapping communication with Vikram. ISRO has no time now to contact the lander as 14 earth days is over for the mission. This mission to the moon is a fantastic trajectory of technological marvel by ISRO.

Undeterred by its row with the Vikram lander, ISRO now is going ahead with its future projects. ISRO, on its space quest continues to prove a point to the world.

ISRO will now concentrate on its key missions like Aditya (sun) L-1, Venus or Shukrayaan, Gaganyaan or human spaceflight mission, Mangalyaan-2 (MOM-2), Indo-Japan (JAXA) joint lunar polar exploration, EXPOSat planetary exploration and indigenous space station programmes.