Chandrayaan-2: India aims for soft landing on Moon's south pole

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"Vikram lander descent was as planned and normal performance was observed up to an altitude of 2.1 kilometers [1.3 miles]", Sivan said in an announcement at mission control.

Kailasavadivoo Sivan, the agency's chairman, said that "data is being analysed" at a tracking centre in Bengaluru in an attempt to find out what happened.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke with ISRO director K. Sivan after the agency lost communications with the Vikram lander. "They've given their best and have always made India proud".

The ISTRAC mission control in Bangalore had just announced that the lander, dubbed Vikram, had it successfully completed the hard braking maneuver and began fine braking.

An illustration of the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter and landing module's post-separation in their independent orbits around the moon.

The only nations to have attained that achievement are the former Soviet Union, the United States and China.

"India is proud of our scientists!"

How to watch the Indian moon landing
How to watch the historic Indian Chandrayaan-2 moon landing today

The Prime Minister will also address the nation at 8 a.m. today from ISRO Control Centre. The descent progressed smoothly for 13 minutes before Vikram started to deviate from its planned path and about 12 seconds before the touch down on Moon's surface. "These are moments to be courageous, and courageous we will be!"

This photo released by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) shows its Geosynchronous Satellite launch Vehicle (GSLV) MkIII carrying Chandrayaan-2 lift off from Satish Dhawan Space center in Sriharikota, India, July 22, 2019. The ISRO Chandrayaan-2 live stream will go live at 1:10am IST on Saturday, September 7 on ISRO's official YouTube channel.

Despite the demise of the Pragyan lunar rover and Vikram lander, the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter will continue studying the moon from afar for about a year. It is the destination of NASA's 2024 Artemis mission.

In its 14-day life, the rover (called Pragyan - wisdom in Sanskrit) can travel up to a half a kilometre from the lander and will send data and images back to Earth for analysis.

The American Apollo 11 mission reached lunar orbit just 75 hours, 50 minutes after blast-off.

Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, head of the Nuclear and Space Policy Initiative at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi, India, told SpaceNews ahead of the landing attempt that the Chandrayaan-2 mission is a sign of India maturing as a space power.

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